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News Release: As Summer Heats Up, Chicagoans Step Up to Combat Violence



TUESDAY, MAY 28, 2019



PHONE: 773.704.7246

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$1.1 Million in Grants Support 181 On-the-Ground Initiatives

CHICAGO – The flare-up of violence over Memorial Day weekend is an agonizing reminder that comprehensive short- and long-term strategies are needed to support Chicagoans who work to make our neighborhoods safer.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities is supporting residents with rapid-response grants of up to $10,000 for community-led organizations creating the conditions to reduce violence on the South and West sides.

The Chicago Fund this week announces $1.1 million in grants for 181 community-based organizations creating programs, services and events this summer and fall. More than 300 applications were reviewed in April and early May, and funds were distributed last week.

"Memorial Day is the gateway to summer fun, but that's not always the case in Chicago's disinvested neighborhoods," said Deborah E. Bennett, Senior Program Officer of Polk Bros. Foundation, which is a member of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities. PSPC is a coalition of more than 40 foundations and funders that came together to seek solutions amid Chicago's 2016 outbreak of gun violence. The Chicago Fund is one of PSPC's strategies. "It's important that people in communities most impacted by gun violence have the resources to do what they think will be effective at reducing the violence around them," Bennett added.

With its largest grant total and highest number of grantees in its four-year history. the Chicago Fund is one of the four violence-reduction strategies supported by members of PSPC. To date, members have committed nearly $75 million to support proven and promising long- and short-term approaches to reducing gun violence: street outreach and transitional jobs, police reform and community relations, gun policy reform, and the Chicago Fund.

The Chicago Fund supports a wide range of activities over the next few months that bring together neighbors and law enforcement. Poignant and painful stories will emerge. Will a public apology from a gang-involved resident to his victim bring more forgiveness to Humboldt Park? Can a beehive reduce shootings on the South side? Do Chicago police officers and the Grand Crossing residents they are sworn to protect prefer smooth jazz or straight-ahead bop?

Chicago Fund grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 arrive as the groups prepare events, programs and services to foster stronger community bonds and crowd out violence, to help reduce the gun violence that usually spikes during summer months.

The Chicago Fund grants support residents' ideas and actions that bind neighborhoods together, make them more resilient, and improve community-police relationships.

"We gladly support these on-the-ground responses to gun violence, and we will help them measure their effectiveness so we all can learn what makes communities more safe and peaceful," added Anna Lee, Director of Community Impact for The Chicago Community Trust, a PSPC member. "These programs show that South and West side residents want to work to end the violence, that violence is not inevitable."

In April and early May, the Chicago Fund reviewed 307 community-led proposals and chose 181 grantees to support with awards totaling $1.1 million. Grants range from $1,000 to $10,000 and help these hyperlocal organizations — which have operating budgets of less than $500,000 — buy materials and rent facilities to make their events, programs and services successful.

In 2018, nearly 40,000 Chicago residents attended events, participated in programming or received services as a result of the funded projects.

Among the 2019 projects:

● The Polished Pebbles family mentoring program in Bronzeville will expand its Friday Hangouts during summer, creating more opportunities for daughters and mothers to connect and to learn about 21st Century career paths and opportunities.

● The South Side Jazz Coalition and the 3rd District of the Chicago Police Department will present a free, live jazz concert on the police station's lawn, in the Grand Crossing neighborhood. Musicians ages 12 to 17 as well as established Chicago performers will entertain from 5 to 8 p.m., Friday Aug. 23, at this get-to-know-you get-together.

● A Humboldt Park Truth and Reconciliation Summit will give community leaders — including law enforcement — a forum to publicly apologize for causing harm, work through guided meditation sessions and then pledge to help implement change.

● Up to 30 young people will learn beekeeping skills and how to run a real-world beekeeping business at hives set up in the Englewood, West Woodlawn and West Garfield Park neighborhoods. Afterward, they can demonstrate what they have learned at a Cops & Bees event, cosponsored by the Chicago Police Department's 7th and 11th Districts as well as with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. Residents and law enforcement can chat, mingle and sample fresh, raw honey.

● From June to September, the Healing Through Art and Nature project in Little Village will bring together artists and residents to complete art- and nature-related projects in a community garden. Events also include community planting days, a summer solstice observance, and a back-to-school celebration.


In 2019, 21 community areas on the South and West sides were prioritized:

Austin, Auburn Gresham, Chatham, Chicago Lawn, Englewood, West Englewood, Gage Park, East Garfield Park, West Garfield Park, Greater Grand Crossing, Humboldt Park, Lower West Side (Pilsen), New City (Back of the Yards), North Lawndale, Roseland, South Chicago, South Lawndale (Little Village), South Shore, Washington Park, West Pullman and Woodlawn.

2019 Highlights:

● $1.1 million awarded

● 181 grantees

● $6,111 average grant

● $83,000 median grantee operating budget

● 179 serving youth and young adults

Since its inception, the Fund has provided $3.3 million support for 505 projects in Chicago. It has grown each year:

2016: $500,000 in support; 72 projects funded
2017: $850,000 in support; 120 projects funded
2018: $850,000 in support; 132 projects funded
2019: $1.1 million in support; 181 projects funded

The Fund is one of four key strategies employed by the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities:

● street outreach, transitional jobs and cognitive behavioral therapy

● police reform and community relations

● gun policy reform, and

● The Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities, a rapid-response fund for community-led summer and fall activities 

About the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities

The Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities is a coalition of over 40 Chicago funders and foundations committed to aligning their funding to support proven and promising approaches to reducing gun violence. To date, members have committed nearly $75 million to street outreach and transitional jobs, police reform and community relations, gun policy reform, and a rapid-response fund for community-led summer activities. Learn more at:

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PSPC Statement on InVEST Campaign


The Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities (PSPC) supports the broad goals of the InVEST campaign to reduce violence in Chicago through effective and sustained community programs.

InVEST's broad goals reflect the objectives of PSPC, a coalition of 40 funders and foundations established in 2016 and united by a multifaceted approach toward reducing gun violence in Chicago. PSPC supports a variety of strategies:

  • Street Outreach and Transitional Jobs;
  • Police Reform and Community Engagement;
  • Sensible Approaches to Reducing Availability and use of Guns; and
  • Rapid-Response Fund for Community Safety and Peace.
PSPC funders have committed more than $50 million to support these strategies and make Chicago safer for all. PSPC is optimistic that the investments are beginning to show signs of helping to reduce gun violence and contributing to better relations between police and residents.

However, philanthropic investments cannot be sustained at this level over the long term. Our hope is that after this infusion of early-stage private sector and foundation funding and testing, the most promising, evidence-based solutions to reduce violence and transform police-community relations could be replicated and scaled with an infusion of sustained public funding.

The Mayor's Office of Gun Violence Prevention is a good first step, and we supported the conversations to create the framework for a Community Commission to advise that office. The office must be empowered to implement a plan that incorporates the promising solutions — including jobs, counseling and trauma support for families, and street outreach to mediate conflict — that are being tested through PSPC.

With a new mayor coming to City Hall in May, we have an opportunity to create a comprehensive citywide violence reduction plan, informed by evidence and strengthened by collaboration. 

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Cities Striving for Peace


Hear from a variety of Chicagoans and former big city mayors Antonio Villaraigosa, Betsy Hodges, Michael Nutter, Mitch Landrieu, and Adrian Fenty share how they successfully lowered gun violence in their city.

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Pullman Playground Built Amid a Newfound Peace

Sherman Scullark, a member of the Risky Road gang faction, reached out Detective Vivian Williams to let her know how tired he was of the violence marring Pullman, according to a recent Tribune story. Kids didn't play outside and they knew not to go to the basketball courts, a hotspot for rival gang shootings. He sought her help to call a truce. A year later, the Risky Road gang faction and the Manic Fours faction were building a playground alongside volunteers and community residents.

Scullark's next request of Detective Williams was an introduction to former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who now serves as managing director of Chicago CRED, an anti-gun violence organization focused on reducing the city's number of homicides and shootings. Duncan told the Tribune the solution to Chicago's gun violence doesn't start with the police, but with the likely perpetrators of violence.

"No one's winning now. The police aren't winning. Guys in the street aren't winning," Duncan said of the city's shootings. 

By supplying them with a job, pay, opportunities to earn their GED and emotional support, the organization aims to curb violence. Founded in 2016, the program serves about 100 men in the Roseland, North Lawndale, West Garfield Park and Englewood neighborhoods.

"We can't just arrest our way out of it. We can't incarcerate our way out of it. We have to give guys a pathway," Duncan said. 

Like Bryant King, a Pullman native who's been involved with Chicago CRED since May. Taking a break from lifting bags of concrete, King described how the program has helped him realize his passion for landscaping. Now he's working with the group to start his own business. 

"You can change," King said. "The violence can stop. And we're an example right now."

This is a post related to the Street Outreach, Support Services and Jobs strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities. 

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How Chicago Communities are Trying to Stop Gun Violence


Last weekend was tragic, unacceptable, and a stark reminder of the work ahead. Members of Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities remain committed to working with our partners until our neighbors in Chicago are safer and communities are more peaceful, which everyone should expect.

Sixty-six people were shot over the weekend in Chicago, and behind those numbers are stories of the victims and their families, according the PBS News Hour, which spoke to Tamar Manasseh of Mothers and Men Against Senseless Killings. Manasseh talked about the neighborhood organizations that are making a difference on the ground every day. 

"It's not just me. There are 100 other organizations just like me who are out here every day in their own way making a contribution to making communities better.

(CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson) not once mentioned them. He said it was the technology and it was extra policing and it was actual over-policing that made the difference. But now you need the community's help when you have so many of the resources that could be given to the community.

This story is about the Community Safety and Peace strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.

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132 Organizations awarded grants for summer and fall programs

David Rojas, the founder of The Alliance 98 will use the $10,000 grant it received from the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities to remove barriers to employment for young people of color. The Alliance 98 is one of the 132 organizations that received grants to help reclaim public spaces and build community cohesion.

Rojas and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Program Officer Tawa Mitchell and Chicago Community Trust Program Officer Anna Lee discuss the grants awarded to help reduce gun violence and build bridges between the police and local communities on WGN Radio.

This is a post related to the Community Safety and Peace strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.

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In hopes of stopping bloodshed, a multimillion-dollar effort is providing jobs, therapy to city's most violent

The brakes of the No. 52 Kedzie bus groaned to a stop about 8:30 a.m., and the doors swooshed open.

Corey Givens hopped on and settled into the middle of the bus, holding his backpack as he looked out the window.

Givens was disappointed he wasn't heading to his job in a work van that day but instead had to catch the bus to go to the branch courthouse at Grand and Central avenues on Chicago's Northwest Side. He faced a hearing on a misdemeanor charge for peddling weed, the less serious of his two pending criminal cases.

Such are the two worlds Givens is straddling — honest work with a steady paycheck in contrast with quick cash, violence and court dates.

Read the full story.

This story is about READI Chicago, one of several Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities strategies to address gun violence in Chicago. 

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Can jobs plus therapy for at-risk men cut gun violence?

This is the third article in our "Building Peace" series in Crain's Chicago Business posted June 7. It was written by Eddie Bocanegra, senior director of READI Chicago at Heartland Alliance, and Roseanna Ander, founding executive director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab.

Anthony, 22, is a father of two young children who lives with his mother and grandmother in Austin. He grew up there and followed the adult men in his life into the streets. He has been arrested for robbery and been shot multiple times. A felony charge for possessing a firearm landed him in prison, and he hasn't been able to find work since.

Anthony's story is all too familiar in Chicago. In 2016, guns killed 27.8 people out of 100,000 in the city, a rate seven times that of New York despite being a city one third the size. The University of Chicago Crime Lab estimates the financial toll of this violence at $4.4 billion, fueling population loss and increasing economic inequality. Though astronomical, this figure pales beside the devastation it causes for families and communities.

In response, Heartland Alliance, along with the University of Chicago Crime and Poverty Labs and seven community organizations, have begun the Rapid Employment & Development Initiative. READI Chicago, launched in fall 2017, is an ambitious, multiyear effort focused exclusively on helping individuals at highest risk of discharging a weapon or being the victim of violence. We connect these young people—most of whom are African-American men between 18 and 30—to transitional jobs, cognitive behavioral therapy and coaching. Why? Because evidence suggests that decisions that drive violence are often made in the moment and can be changed, and that transitional jobs and therapy can reduce involvement in violence.

The full text of the article is here.

Part One: Chicago Funders on Gun Violence: 'We Do Not Have Time to Waste'

Part Two: Think Illinois Has the Country's Toughest Gun Laws? Think Again

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PSPC Weekly Wrap-Up

Post-Parkland, the nation has mourned another mass school shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas. For decades, children have been prey to harshest horrors of gun violence. In the wake of these continued tragedies, young people across the nation have moved to the forefront of protest to enact gun safety laws, but maybe it's time for another constituency to take the lead...if kids can't be safe in schools, perhaps parents can grab the mantle of gun safety protest by taking their children out of schools.

In Chicago, though, we're often looking for solutions against everyday violence (versus mass shootings). Employment is a key factor in keeping "Opportunity Youth" occupied so they avoid pitfalls and pressures, and police are exploring how to leverage cameras and other technologies to intervene in active situations before they are escalated. Additionally, medical entities are establishing themselves in the centers of communities that are experiencing heightened violence.

Shootings were down over the 2018 Memorial Day weekend, but we cannot, and should not, ever get comfortable. We're reminded to never relent in what has been dubbed "the killing season."

"We do not have time to waste." 

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Overshadowed Summer

 Source: The Chicago Tribune

For too many in Chicago, the recognized start of summer, Memorial Day Weekend, brings concern rather than celebration.But organizations like The Institute for Nonviolence Chicago are not cowering in the face of challenge — the organization is poised to hold an all-day youth basketball tournament Saturday that aims to be "an oasis for young people." 

This is a story about the Community Safety and Peace strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.

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Mission to Heal

Source: New York City, Office of the Mayor

Mental health professionals often challenge conventional understandings of violence, reframing the conversation using frameworks that account for PTSD, the impact of environmental racism and lack of access as factors that may cause, and perpetuate, harmful behaviors.

After helping to find Sisters Thrive, New York First Lady Chirlane McCray recently announced Brothers Thrive; both initiatives are aimed to promote mental health literacy in the black community. Mental Health First Aid is providing the training for these programs.

McCray's mental health wellness, support and outreach efforts are noteworthy, widely recognized as a first for major city.

This is a story about the Street Outreach, Support Services and Jobs strategies of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities. 

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Three bills that would make Illinois safer from gun violence

Source: The Chicago Sun-Times

As part of its "31 Bullets" series, the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board has highlighted three pieces of gun policy that are currently being legislated by the Illinois Assembly. They include:

  • An Illinois House hearing on a bipartisan bill that would allow family members and law enforcement officials to petition the courts to temporarily remove firearms from the homes of people who are a danger to themselves or others
  • A related bill in the Senate that would require that anyone who agrees to accept guns that have been removed from someone in distress sign an affidavit saying they would not return the guns without legal clearance
  • A bill to ban bump stocks and trigger cranks in Illinois has passed the Senate and is scheduled to be the subject of a committee hearing in the House


Read the full editorial, and watch the accompanying 31 Bullets campaign video.

This is a post related to the Gun Policy strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities. 

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No, It's Not a Bike Rack

Source: Chicago Tribune

What if getting a gun was as simple and straightforward as renting a Divvy bike?

A short-term art installation at Daley Plaza, The Chicago Gun Share Program, teases this very notion. The Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence commissioned the piece, working with a local ad agency to bring forth this display — The Chicago Tribune reports that artist Nicholas Berg designed the exhibit to provoke people and get them talking about gun reform.

Berg says the steel installation took four months to create and "is baseball bat-proof" to withstand any form of protest. "I saw an opportunity to take advantage of the conversation without tragedy being tied to it," he said. 

This is a post related to the Gun Policy strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.

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Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities Announces 2018 Grantees


Monday, May 14, 2018


Sonya M. Lewis, 708-439-0326

Kimberly Rudd, 773-213-6325 

$850,000 in grants to 132 organizations for Summer and Fall programs

CHICAGO — For the third year in a row, neighborhood organizations in Chicago working to reduce gun violence will receive grants to help reclaim parks, streets and public areas and build community cohesion. Last week, the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities (PSPC) awarded 132 grants, totaling $850,000, to fund activities this summer and fall in 19 prioritized communities. Grants range from $1,000 to $10,000.

"With each application cycle, we grow more and more impressed and inspired by the proposals, and the earnestness and eagerness with which these organizations and community residents seek to serve and support their communities," says Deborah E. Bennett of Polk Bros. Foundation, who oversees the community grants review process for the Partnership.

Over 300 community groups applied for the grants Bennett said, adding, "They were all deserving and inspiring. The movement for a safe and peaceful Chicago is alive and well in our communities. These investments are just one part of a much larger effort to reduce gun violence."

Each of the prioritized communities will have activities funded for all age groups, starting after Memorial Day and concluding on or before Halloween. Stories of these activities will be featured on the Safe and Peaceful website and, at @safepeacefulchi, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Examples of activities funded include arts programs, mentoring programs, and marches for peace.

The Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities (PSPC) is a coalition of more than 30 Chicago funders and foundations who have collectively committed more than $40 million dollars to support proven and promising responses to gun violence.

The community grants, which are technically awarded by The Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities, is one component of a comprehensive strategy that also includes direct interventions with young people at risk, police reforms that are helping rebuild trust with the community and strengthen law enforcement, and gun policy reform.

The community grants began in the summer of 2016 when gun violence in Chicago was spiking.In its first year, the Fund issued 72 grants totaling $500,000. Last year, the Fund issued 120 grants totaling $850,000. 

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Two Chicago Organizations Soothe the Pain of Loss on a Celebrated Holiday

Source: Chicago Tribune

The Saturday before Mother's Day, for three years running, Tamar Manasseh has thrown a party. It's on the corner of 75th Street and Stewart Avenue in Englewood. There's a band. There's a DJ. There's a photo booth. There's a whole lot of food.

Manasseh is the founder of Mothers/Men Against Senseless Killings, a 3-year-old group that sits watch and builds community in one of Chicago's most violence-plagued neighborhoods — the neighborhood where Manasseh grew up. Volunteers gather in lawn chairs, talk, listen to music and serve as a block club of sorts. They're out daily in the summer, and they take the fall, winter and spring months off. The Mother's Day party is a bit of a "We're back," as well as a chance to honor moms on a holiday that, for many, is tinged by grief and loss.

This year, in addition to music and photos and food and friendship, there will be flowers.

Flowers for Dreams, a West Loop-based florist that donates 25 percent of its profits to a different charity each month, selected M.A.S.K. as its May charity.

"It made sense to really put them on a pedestal in May," Flowers for Dreams co-founder and CEO Steven Dyme told me.

But here's the really beautiful part. Also for May, Dyme's shop offered customers a chance to buy a $15 bouquet to donate to a mom who has lost a child to gun violence, which Flowers for Dreams staffers will hand-deliver to Saturday's party.

"It's a chance to send a bouquet to a mother who may not have someone to send her flowers," Dyme said. "I don't want to overstate our impact. I'm sure it's very little. But I think what flowers do really well is let you know someone cares. Some of the moms may not be getting a lot of those signs on a regular basis, so I think it's kind of cool that we can let them know someone in the community cares."

The bouquets, 80 of them, sold out in four hours. 

Read the full story.

This is a story about the Community Safety and Peace strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.

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RFP seeks safe, peaceful programming ideas from Chicago communities

RFP seeks safe, peaceful programming ideas from Chicago communities


Nonprofit organizations and engaged residents are invited to apply for grants of up to $10,000 to support summer and early fall violence prevention programs

The Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities ("the Fund") opens its 2018 grant application period on Thursday, March 15, calling for proposals from organizations to develop programming in one or more of 19 prioritized Chicago communities. Nonprofit organizations, that are formally or informally organized, must have annual operating budgets of no more than $500,000.

Grant applicants can apply for awards ranging from $1,000 to $10,000, to fund programming such as educational events, youth activities, resident leader stipends, recreational activities, residential block parties, public performances and street festivals. The application process is straightforward and grants will be awarded before Memorial Day, reflecting a rapid-response process intended to support grassroots organizations that are working with keep communities safe. The total funding pool is $850,000.

The Fund will host free, in-person sessions to review the application process and answer questions. Sessions are scheduled starting the week of March 19 at Chicago Public Library sites. Visit for details. Applicants are not required to attend a review session. Accommodations for people with special needs will be provided upon request.

The application deadline is April 17, 2018. Grant awards will be announced in mid-May, and all activities related to the grants must be completed by October 31, 2018.

Applications must be submitted online via the Grants Central portal; go to to begin. Funded programs must be held in the 19 Chicago communities prioritized for support based on data compiled by the University of Chicago Crime Lab for the highest number and rate of homicides: 

Austin, Auburn Gresham, Chatham, Chicago Lawn, Englewood, West Englewood, Gage Park, East Garfield Park, West Garfield Park, Greater Grand Crossing, Humboldt Park, Lower West Side (Pilsen), New City (Back of the Yards), North Lawndale, Roseland, South Chicago, South Lawndale (Little Village), South Shore and Washington Park.

To qualify, organizations must have 501(c)3 nonprofit status or partner with an organization that has that status,and an annual operating budget of no more than $500,000.

The Fund was launched in 2016 by the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities, a coalition of more than 30 Chicago funders and foundations aligning their funding to support proven and promising urgent responses to reducing violence in the next two to three years. The Fund supports grassroots organizations to sponsor events and projects in Chicago's neighborhoods that build community cohesion and promote safety and peace. In 2017, 120 organizations received funding.

Interviews are available with:
Deborah E. Bennett, Advisory Committee Chairperson and a Senior Program Officer at the Polk Bros. Foundation
Anna Lee, Program Officer at the Chicago Community Trust
Marsha Eaglin, 2017 grant recipient and Executive Director of the Impact Family Center in Chicago's Roseland community


Monday, March 19: Legler Branch
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM session time

Tuesday, March 20: Sherman Branch
12:00 PM – 1:30 PM session time

Wednesday, March 21: Thurgood Marshall Branch
12:30 PM – 2:00 PM session time

Saturday, March 24: Little Village Branch
10:00 AM – 11:30 AM session time

Wednesday, March 28: Woodson Regional Library
6 - 7:30pm session time

To attend a session, register by clicking here.

This is a story about the Promote Community Safety and Peace strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.

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Chicagoans Crowding Out Violence at Block Level

Chicagoans like Natalie Perkins spent last summer building community cohesion and promoting safety and peace on Chicago's South Side. As education coordinator for South Merrill Community Garden, she helped run an entire summer of Saturday activities for neighborhood kids called Planting and Playing Summer Garden Arts. The effort was one of 120 projects funded by the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities, which offers rapid-response grant opportunities to support community-based actions and activities that make neighborhoods safer.

Curbed Chicago's Patrick Sisson reports how community gardens and block associations are helping stem Chicago's gun violence.

Community gardens, and other neighborhood-level organizations like block clubs and arts groups, aren't typically viewed as direct solutions to violence. Decades of "broken window" policing persuaded many cities to adopt top-down crime-prevention plans focused on punishing small offenses (recent research, however, indicates that this strategy had the opposite effect).

Instead, a growing body of evidence suggests that community groups have actually played an outsized, and under-recognized, role in the significant decline in urban crime across the United States and that programs that benefit local, bottom-up urban organizing may be the solution.

According to a recent study by New York University sociologist Patrick Sharkey, these groups were "fundamental" to the massive nationwide drops in crime over the last 25 years (the national homicide rate, for example, shrunk by 50 percent between 1990 and 2015). His work even determined a formula for their impact: Every 10 additional organizations in a city with more than 100,000 residents creates a 6 percent drop in violent crime, and a 9 percent drop in homicides.

In line with the growing consensus, the [Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities'] work is swift and strategic; it's community action at the street level. Over the last two years, a coalition of 30 charities and foundations pledged more than $1 million to underwrite small, community-oriented grants between $1,000 and $10,000, part of a $30 million investment in strategies to reduce gun violence.

The grants will support temporary programming and events to increase neighborhood unity and safety in under-resourced Chicago neighborhoods, like Englewood, Auburn Gresham, and Austin, located on the city's majority-black South and West sides. The funds also empower local actors already working in their communities, doing away with long vetting processes required by some nonprofits and one-size-fits-all solutions.

Read the full article.

This is a story about the Community Safety and Peace and Street Outreach, Support Services and Jobs strategies of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.

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Chicagoans, It's Time to Demand a Better Life

By Shari E. Runner

In the predominantly African-American communities on Chicago's South and West sides, things have been bad for far too long, and they seem to be getting worse — for those communities and for the city as a whole.

The fast-approaching March 20 primary election presents a chance for voters to demand better.

Across the city and the state, policies and trends that should make life better for everyone simply don't.

A focus on education has increased the city's high school graduation rates, but the gains are not shared equally across all schools or all communities.

According to Chicago Public Schools data, African-American boys in particular lag, with more than 37 percent failing to graduate within five years, compared with 22 percent of the general population. And in predominantly African-American neighborhoods, some schools have been underfunded and underperforming, underenrolled, and now several are in line to be shuttered.

A nationwide booming job market isn't booming for everyone. Unemployment in Illinois has been disproportionately high among African-Americans, and at 9.7 percent, according to the Economic Policy Institute, the state has one of the nation's highest jobless rates.

Police are supposed to serve and protect but instead are too often used to manage the outcomes of policies that have been detrimental to Chicago's poorest communities. For instance, drug use among black people has typically been met with policing and prison sentences for decades, devastating families and increasing poverty by creating barriers to employment for those who have been incarcerated. Now with the opioid crisis pointing a national spotlight on overdose deaths among whites (who have always used drugs at a similar or higher rate than black people have), political leaders are calling for public health approaches. That could be great news for everybody, but there are no real plans to reverse the decades of wrongheaded drug policies that fueled mass incarceration.

Meanwhile, illegal guns flood certain Chicago streets, compounding desperate conditions that already foster crime, violence and trauma. Medical clinics, mental health facilities and pharmacies in predominantly African-American communities are closing, leaving new "deserts" in neighborhoods already ravaged by decades of economic disinvestment. To add insult to injury, in Cook County an unfair proportion of the property tax burden has been shifted to such low-income neighborhoods.

It's no surprise, then, that a noticeable number of African-Americans are fleeing Chicago, or leaving Illinois altogether.

They are not the only ones. African-Americans accounted for only 10,000 of the more than 37,000 people who moved out of Illinois in 2016, and in 2017 more than 33,000 people left the state, with most of the population loss occurring in Chicago. Elected officials are entrusted with the responsibility to develop solutions and enact policies that give everyone a fair chance at a good life. But local and state leaders are failing Chicago and failing Illinois.

The problems African-American communities face are deep and daunting, and they are the enduring legacy of policies and practices that have divided the city since the Great Migration. They require strategic, comprehensive solutions that recognize this. Yet when it comes to these communities, too often we get panic-driven reactions that serve only to perpetuate negative narratives about African-Americans and negative narratives about Chicago.

The consequences of those narratives are evident in news stories that cite crime or an inconsistent public education system as reasons companies might hesitate to bring offices and jobs here, or as reasons why many who were born and bred here choose not to stay. The continuing population decline suggests that many Chicagoans feel helpless against the multiple complex factors that contribute to our city's challenges.

But Chicago is not helpless.

As a world-class city, Chicago has shown in many ways that it can deliver strategic solutions. Solving the complex problems on the South and West sides will make the city and the state better for everyone.

Like every other major undertaking that has helped make our city great, it will not be cheap, and it will not be easy. It will require fierce political will matched by serious financial investment. It will require voters to hold all elected officials accountable for finding solutions, regardless of political stripe.

Most of all, it will require a commitment that, while we cannot solve all problems at once, we will not allow our inability to do everything to prevent us from doing something. It's time to demand better.

Shari E. Runner is the president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League. 

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Chicago Fighting Crime L.A.-style

Sean Malinowski was invited by Supt. Eddie Johnson to help the Chicago Police Department (CPD) create new, high-tech crime-fighting centers. Malinowski, a former lieutenant in the Los Angeles Police Department who adopted predictive analysis as a way to prevent shootings, was tapped to help build Strategic Decision Support Centers (SDSCs) with the University of Chicago. At the support centers, cops and civilian analysts monitor gunshot detectors, surveillance cameras and other data to pinpoint where crimes occur and where they might happen next, according to the Sun-Times.

Malinowski oversaw the opening of the CPD's support centers in the Englewood and Harrison districts in February 2017. Four other districts — Gresham, Deering, Ogden and Austin — got the centers later in the year. Six more are supposed to open by the end of this year. As the centers opened, the numbers of violent crimes fell. Shootings in Englewood dropped 35 percent in 2017. Murders declined by 15 percent across Chicago.

Meantime, civilian analysts from the University of Chicago were flown to Los Angeles to learn how the situation rooms work there. When they returned, they worked alongside Chicago cops.

The support centers are $1.5 million rooms inside police stations. Information from ShotSpotter gunshot detectors and surveillance cameras is displayed on large monitors. Beat officers have real-time access to the information via cellphone and in-car computers, alerting them to the spot where a shooting occurred.

Cops on the street began realizing the nerve centers could tell them what was happening at a crime scene before they rolled up in their cars — or that a shooting had just occurred at an intersection blocks away from them.

As part of the new program, district commanders also encouraged officers to do more community outreach to get citizens involved after decades of mistrust, Malinowski says.

This story is about the Police Reform and Community Relations strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities. 

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CPD Reforms Underway

The Chicago Police Department (CPD) is adding management-level positions to oversee reform and strategy. The newly-created positions will be charged with implementing a strategic plan for the police department and making sure reforms are delivered by specific deadlines, according to the Sun-Times. CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson acknowledged the civilian jobs are a break from the past for the police department.

"For a long time, CPD and law enforcement probably all over the country, never really embraced civilian experts in terms of doing things of this nature. What we're good at is fighting crime and locking up bad guys. What we're not good at is long-term strategies in terms of the direction that the organization may go," the superintendent said.

"We made a commitment to change the way CPD does business and to put these reforms into place. We weren't just saying we were going to do it. We're actually going to do it. So this is just another mechanism for us to ensure that we're basically policing ourselves. I need the sworn personnel to focus on the crime fight. For so long, what law enforcement would do is pick a police officer and say, 'You're in charge of this' with little or no expertise."

In related news, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan launched a website allowing the public to have a say in CPD reform. Madigan's office says the public input will help inform the court-ordered oversight of CPD, also known as a consent decree, according to the Associated Press.

These stories are about the Police Reform and Community Relations strategy of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities.

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