In a move to help reduce the cycle of violence gripping the city of Chicago, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago has awarded the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago $425,000 in grants to support several community organizations offering multi-faceted approaches to violence prevention.
Funded through the Shure Charitable Trust, a supporting organization of the Jewish Federation established in memory of Sidney and Rose Shure, the grants will support the work of Sinai Health System ($175,000), the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago ($150,000) and the United Way Neighborhood Network Initiative ($100,000), with United Way serving as administrator of the funding.
"The Jewish Federation is proud to support these community organizations that are providing a multi-faceted approach to violence prevention," said Dr. Steven B. Nasatir, President of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. "We serve over 500,000 Chicagoans of all faiths, and we are devoted to making life better for our greater Chicago community.
"Violence is a critical issue impacting our local community today, and we will not stand idly by while our neighbors bleed," Nasatir said.
Funding will support neighborhood-specific initiatives in each of the organizations, including the Sinai Health System's work to build a comprehensive behavioral health system for children and youth in Southwest Chicago and their citywide Chicago Gun Violence Research Collaborative; The Institute for Nonviolence Chicago's programs that bring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s principles, practices and teachings of nonviolence to the Austin and Back of the Yards neighborhoods; and United Way's work training community leaders and institutions to provide trauma-informed care in Auburn Gresham, Cicero, Little Village and South Chicago.
Sinai Health System
Sinai is collaborating with a wide range of partner organizations to establish a community-responsive, patient-focused and sustainable behavioral health System of Care for youth ages 0-18 in Southwest Chicago. Over the next two years, this coordinated network of health services seeks to assist 1,000 children and their families with trauma-informed behavioral health and medical services, and to enable providers across the region to provide accessible, coordinated, cost-effective and high quality care.
"Mental health is a critical factor in child and youth development," said Kathe Dellacecca, Vice President of Behavioral Health at Sinai Health System. "When left unaddressed, early traumas or mental health challenges can significantly increase a young person's likelihood of experiencing violence or engaging in violent behaviors later in life. Mental and behavioral healthcare are vital for violence prevention."
The Chicago Gun Violence Research Collaborative is a first-of-its-kind partnership of Sinai Urban Health Institute and the Illinois Public Health Institute, bringing together the city's top academic and health researchers with community stakeholders to address the issue of violence in the community.
The Collaborative is developing a comprehensive website to serve as an accessible repository of scholarly and field work best practices, and in the spring will convene four mini-conferences to foster collaboration and the sharing of knowledge and best practices, exploring solutions to Chicago's violence epidemic in each of four Chicago neighborhoods experiencing high violence rates. Together, civic leaders, Chicago researchers across disciplines, and community stakeholders will create neighborhood-specific research agendas and collaborative opportunities to reduce violence.
"Morbidity and mortality from gun violence are two dramatic examples of health care disparities disproportionately impacting communities of color," said Karen Teitelbaum, President and CEO of Sinai Health System. "To address this public health crisis, our law enforcement system, social service agencies, community organizations and schools need evidence-based solutions that reflect the needs of Chicago's communities."
Institute for Nonviolence Chicago
With the mission of using the nonviolence principles, practices and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to replace the cycle of violence, The Institute for Nonviolence Chicago is a new local effort to reduce violence in the city's most violent neighborhoods.
The Institute uses a holistic approach that combines individualized service provision and wraparound support with a collaborative street outreach strategy, bringing together outreach workers, case managers, victim advocates, nonviolence trainers and a community organizer, to carry the message of nonviolence to street corners, classrooms and prison cells. Working with "in-risk" individuals ages 14-24, the Institute mediates conflicts, supports victims and helps families deal with shattered lives while organizing the community to better support each other.
"Violence is learned," said Teny Gross, Executive Director of the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago. "Violence is cyclical -- victims become perpetrators; perpetrators become victims. Entire communities are negatively impacted by the actions of a few.
"Communities can end violence and build a safe and just place to live, learn, work and play -- what we call Dr. King's 'Beloved Community,'" Gross said. "The Institute for Nonviolence Chicago strives to make the Beloved Community a reality."
United Way of Metropolitan Chicago
People who have experienced trauma often struggle with added health challenges, including struggles with mental health and depression, behavior control and disease. This is particularly true for youth who have experienced trauma. That's why United Way of Metropolitan Chicago seeks to address and reverse the devastating effects of trauma and violence in local neighborhoods.
Through its Neighborhood Network Initiative, United Way works with community coalitions in 10 neighborhoods to address neighborhood issues. United Way will train leaders and institutions to provide trauma-informed care in the neighborhoods of Auburn Gresham, Cicero, Little Village and South Chicago.
"Having the tools to understand and address trauma is critical for parents, teachers and doctors alike," said Alex Murphy, Senior Manager, Community Investment-Health at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. "This will enable these community leaders to modify their approach with people who have experienced trauma, especially children, which has been shown to build resiliency, avoid re-traumatization and strengthen bonds between youth and adults."
"In Jewish tradition, every life is held as precious, and it is often said that to save one life is to save an entire world," Nasatir said. "It is our hope that this funding will help save many precious lives in our city."
The Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago is one of the largest nonprofit social welfare institutions in Illinois. It supports a vital network of agencies that act upon core Jewish values, including caring for those in need and sustaining the Jewish community.