Board backs President Preckwinkle’s policy to provide local services to those at-risk
Cook County’s Justice Advisory Council (JAC) received approval from the Board of Commissioners to award $700,000 in grants to seven different local organizations. The grants will fund programs aimed at prevention, intervention and reduction of violence in targeted communities throughout Chicago and the suburbs.
The grants address a key component of County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s public safety agenda. Since President Preckwinkle took office in 2010, she has elevated public safety beyond the County’s traditional role of funding the courts and Department of Corrections, and tasked the JAC to work with communities and local organizations on violence reduction strategies.
Recipients of the grants, each for $100,000, responded to an RFP posted by the County in 2015 and were chosen following a thorough vetting process by a multi-departmental review committee. The County originally received responses from 31 potential vendors.
“These grants will fund meaningful programs that work to prevent or address the impact of violence in our communities,” Preckwinkle said. “I appreciate the hard work that went into selection of these vendors and am encouraged that the programs will result in positive engagement and contribute to a reduction in violence.”
The awardees are:
• The Miracle Center: Serves youth from the Greater Humboldt Park neighborhood in Chicago. It includes an after-school program with academic support and enrichment, and college preparation through navigating the process of selecting, applying to, and enrolling in a college. The unique focus of the program is both on the arts and entrepreneurial skills to build competencies and reduce risk factors.
• UMOJA Student Development Corporation: Serves the Englewood and Rogers Park neighborhoods in Chicago at three High Schools (Hope, Harper and Sullivan). It employs a school-based model with UMOJA, Mikva Challenge and Lurie Children’s Hospital partnering to provide a three-tiered support and intervention model. It includes balanced and restorative justice practices (peace rooms), behavioral health services and student-driven interventions.
• Westside Health Authority: Serves 45 African American males ages 16–24 living in and around Chicago’s Austin community who are either gang affiliated, have a history of two or more arrests, or have been adjudicated in the Cook County courts. The program includes intensive youth mentoring; development and concentrated skills training; GED classes; anger management, mental health, substance abuse and cognitive behavioral therapy, and social change worksite placement.
• Storycatchers Theatre: Serves youth Countywide who are incarcerated and who face the corresponding risk of confronting continued violence. The program will provide youth with a specialized opportunity for personal advancement through artistic and employment training. The program would offer case management, individual and family counseling and substance abuse counseling.
• Union League Boys and Girls Clubs: Serves 60 youth at the Barreto Union League Boys and Girls Club in Humboldt Park. Along with existing Better Boys and Girls Club programs, it will offer Youth for Unity which teaches self-appreciation, diversity training and leadership training, and Know Peace, an end-of-school year activity using art projects, performance arts and neighborhood parades that spread a message of peace and non-violence.
• Metropolitan Family Services: Serves Chicago’s Greater Roseland Community and is headquartered at Harlan High School. Metropolitan Family Services will provide an after-school program including a peace room, service learning, tutoring and other programs. It will serve 75 youth and will offer safe space, trauma-informed counseling and academic support.
• Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Chicago: Serves at least 60 youth in three south suburban Housing Authority of Cook County facilities in Ford Heights, Robbins, and Chicago Heights. The programs will include gang prevention, conflict resolution and developing resistance and refusal skills.
“It is essential that we offer those who are at-risk supports and services to steer them toward safe and productive lives,” President Preckwinkle said. “High levels of detention and incarceration have not worked and many of our communities continue to face unacceptable levels of violence. I appreciate the support of our County Commissioners in approving these grants.”