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



TUESDAY, MAY 28, 2019



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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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Grantees in the News: 2018 Youth Media Coverage


Six youth media organizations worked with The Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities to help showcase the work of our 2018 grantees:

Community TV Network

Free Spirit Media/The Real Chi

Nerdy Media


Urban Gateways

Many thanks to all of the young people and organization personnel who worked to produce these pieces!

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A Message to Chicago's Next Mayor

Sustainable change of any kind requires meaningful, collaborative investments and partnerships between the public and private sectors. Members of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities are optimistic that the investments made over the last two years are beginning to show signs of helping to reduce gun violence and contributing to better relations between police and residents.

But 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, over time the most promising, evidence-based solutions to reducing violence and transforming police-community relations could be replicated and scaled with an infusion of sustained public funding.

We see early stage funding as our contribution to a comprehensive, citywide violence reduction plan for Chicago.

Read our full message to Chicago's next mayor: A Critical Opportunity and Promising Solutions to Chicago's Gun Violence

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North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council (NLCC) Tree Planting


Safe and Peaceful grantee North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council (NLCC), held a tree planting in Unity Park to commemorate community organizer Arthur L. Fair III. The park was founded by area residents who, with support from multiple community partners, maintain and landscape the space so it may serve as a gathering place for both recreation and  

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AT&T's Believe Chicago addressing violence and unemployment in 19 neighborhoods

Chicago's corporate sector has long played a role in supporting social service programs, arts and culture, and recreational opportunities in the city. But a new initiative by AT&T stands apart from many philanthropic efforts: theirs is designed to directly address the city's violence and high unemployment rate for people of color by focusing on 19 neighborhoods that are home to 28 percent of Chicago's population and 72 percent of homicides in 2017.

AT&T's Believe Chicago was created with employees, who called on their employer to pivot its giving toward job creation, neighborhood investment and employee volunteerism in the 19 prioritized neighborhoods – the same neighborhoods that community-building grants from the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities are being activated. The company is partnering with nonprofit organizations that include Heartland Alliance, the North Lawndale Employment Network and St. Sabina's Employment Resource Center. We salute AT&T and other corporate citizens in Chicago that are exploring the ways their enterprises can help create the conditions for safer, more peaceful communities.

Read more here:

Crain's Chicago Business story

Chicago Sun-Times story 

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Center for Advancing Domestic Peace, "Drop the Gun, Pick Up the Tools" Awards Ceremony


Safe & Peaceful grantee the Center for Advancing Domestic Peace partnered with Neighborhood Barbers for Peace to hold a talent contest throughout the summer. At its culminating award ceremony, the placing contestants shared their thoughts on how the contest impacted their lives, inspiring them to forego violence and spend their time learning tangible skills that can provide both income and a productive hobby.  

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AGAPE Werks, Mini Maker Faire


Through an atmosphere of technological and artistic innovation, the Chicago Southside Mini Maker Faire offered community members a chance to learn from and inspire each other while showcasing their wares and works. Safe & Peaceful grantee & event organizer Jackie Moore proclaims: "The Mini Maker Faire is a celebration of the people, of those folks who like to create things on their own: the do-it-yourselfers, the makers, the hackers, the scientists, the artists."

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Brothers Standing Together (BST): Redemption, Love, Peace & Unity After Tragedy


An interview with BST founder Brother Richard Raymond, who reflects on forgiveness after his 3rd annual back-to-school "Peace in the Hood" basketball tournament was interrupted by gun-violence.  

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Kufi Club of Chicago

The KUFI Club of Chicago - through 2018 Safe and Peaceful grantee the Love Foundation - celebrated its first Crowning Ceremony this summer. This rites-of-passage coronation served as an important benchmark to acknowledge the power that young people have to be leaders and anti-violence activists in the Roseland community. "Rather than looking at children as problems to be fixed in our communities, we see children as agents of change," says founder David Pruitt 

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West Side Peace Parade


Two Safe & Peaceful Chicago grantees —Major Adams Community Committee and West Humboldt Park Development Council — partnered with tens of other West Side organizations, block clubs and nonprofits to host a daylong festival at Union Park. Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr. praised the collective for showing how redemption can come for making things better for the generations that follow. "The community recognizes that we believe in peace," he said.  

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300 N. Mason Block Party


Safe & Peaceful grantee The 300 N. Mason Street Block Club celebrated its 41st annual back-to-school party. Community activists and elders provided school supplies and more than 150 backpacks for children, and the day was complete with food, games, and live entertainment courtesy of the Jesse White Tumblers.  

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Yes to Life, Yes to Peace

Grantee brings hometown rapper Lil Durk back to his Englewood neighborhood to participate in peace festival

The J. Minor Allen Peace Movement, Resident Association of Greater Englewood (RAGE) and Save Our Community Coalition, three Englewood-based groups, recently collaborated to produce the Say Yes to Life, Say Yes to Peace outdoor festival, aided by rapper Lil Durk.

"It was good he [Lil Durk] made it here — the children enjoyed seeing him and posing to take photos with him," said J. Minor Allen, special events coordinator and program manager for the J. Minor Allen Peace Movement, a division of the National Black Wall Street Chicago.

"The goal of this festival was to bring people together from Englewood, Auburn Gresham and surrounding communities for a safe and peaceful gathering, and we did just that," Allen added.

Part of RAGE's annual "So Fresh Saturdays," the August 25 event at Hamilton Park (513 W. 72nd Street) was said to attract more than 300 people. According to RAGE co-founder Asiaha Butler, Lil Durk donated book bags for the school supply portion of the festival, allowing event organizers to give away "nearly 500 book bags" that were filled with school supplies, she said. Kids could also get free haircuts at the festival, and there was a mobile video game van on-site for their enjoyment.

Englewood resident Princess Wallace attended with her four children. "This is my first time coming here. I came this year because I received a flyer from someone," she said. "I like what I see here — there are a lot of games for the kids, good music for adults and plenty of resources for the community."

Other attendees like Englewood resident Melvin Taylor said he's been attending So Fresh Saturdays since its inception. "I'm an outdoor kind of guy, and I like to stay in my neighborhood to party; I have always enjoyed myself when I come here, that's why I keep coming back," he said.

Imagine Englewood If was among a dozen resource vendors at the event. "I like to describe 'So Fresh' as a community barbecue, where kids have a safe space to play, where a platform is available for local talent to perform and get exposure, and a place where residents can hear directly from elected officials," said executive director Michelle Rashad.

J. Minor Allen added that one way to combat crime is developing partnerships among local organizations, stakeholders and residents, with a common goal of ridding their communities of violence. The Chicago Park District, Hamilton Park Advisory Council, Teamwork Englewood and the Neighborhood Heroes organizations were among the Say Yes to Life, Say Yes to Peace sponsors.

"To see so many police officers out here with nothing to do but stand around and look bored is a good thing. That means no one is misbehaving," said Mark Allen, chairman of National Black Wall Street Chicago. "I am glad we are one of the partners for this event."

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

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Brothers Standing Together (BST), "Peace in the Hood" Basketball Tournament


Safe and Peaceful grantee Brothers Standing Together worked with the park district, alderman and scores of volunteers to have a day that "let the community be at peace."  

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A Work of Faith Ministries INC (AWOFINC), Back to School


Safe & Peaceful grantee A Work of Faith Ministries INC (AWOFINC) organized a broad community coalition for a South Shore block party that treated residents to a day of food, recreation, information and giving back.  

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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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Grantees in the News

Safe & Peaceful Chicago Grantee News Stories

Englewood Unites With Peace, Police & Barbecues
Truestar, July 26, 2018

Photo Essay: Performance Arts Camp Helps Kids Bring Peace to the West Side
The Triibe, July 31, 2018

One Man Brings Healthy Living to the South Side with S.O.U.L. Community Garden
The Triibe, August 9, 2018

More Safe & Peaceful Communities Grantees
Learn about the work of a few of our 2018 grantee organizations

Local-Motions Inc.

Restoring the Path

Sustainable Options for Urban Living Inc. (S.O.U.L.)

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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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Hoops for Peace

Safe and Peaceful grantee The Terrell Bosley Anti-Violence Association hosts this annual basketball tournament for boys and girls of all ages who reside in underserved communities that are plagued by gun violence. They believe that the model of a basketball game teaches the importance of teamwork and allows participants to release stress through athletics. 

The organization says its community outreach event served more than 250 families in the Chatham community, and it is growing annually because there are so many families in need. 

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Everyone who cares deeply about Chicago’s future can play a role.

If you are an employer, you can hire young people at risk. If you are a community leader, you can help improve police-community relations. If you are a health care provider, you can support trauma-informed care to gun violence victims. If you are a funder, you can support any one of these efforts. Whatever you do, your voice matters when you speak up in support of policies that can make our neighborhoods safer. Reach out to learn more.

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