Collaborative between UChicago Medicine and Advocate Health Care supports 18 grassroots organizations helping to keep kids safe this summer

Hyde Park campus from the air

Aerial view of UChicago Medicine's Hyde Park campus (bottom) and beyond

Eighteen South Side community groups are receiving $150,000 to support their grassroots work supporting youth and keeping them safe during the summer — a time when violence and violent injuries typically increases in the Chicagoland area. The funding is made possible through the annual grants program from Southland RISE (Resilience Initiative to Strengthen and Empower), a collaborative uniting the trauma recovery programs from the University of Chicago Medicine and Advocate Health Care.

“Local grassroots organizations have long understood the need for constructive, skill-building programs that keep the young people in their communities safe, engaged and empowered during the summer months,” said Brenda Battle, RN, BSN, MBA, UChicago Medicine’s Senior Vice President for Community Health Transformation and Chief Equity Officer. “As part of Southland RISE, our South Side-based health system can effectively leverage our resources to support these important programs and others addressing violence and trauma – key health priorities for the communities that we serve.”

In the past four years, Southland RISE has awarded more than $500,000 to grassroots organizations to support the groups’ work combating violence and empowering Chicago youth. This year’s recipients are doing critical work keeping young people safe through leadership training, sailing, storytelling, civic engagement and street outreach. Many of the programs incorporate workshops and exercises to support mental health, build trauma resiliency and teach violence mitigation skills.

“We at Advocate Health Care stand together with Southland RISE and our community partners in advancing creative solutions that address the health crisis of gun violence,” said Frank Belmonte, DO, MPH, Chief Medical Officer and Chairman of Pediatrics at Advocate Children’s Hospital and Co-Chief Medical Officer of The Chicagoland Children’s Health Alliance.The work these organizations do is vital to strengthening the resilience of the communities we serve, and we look forward to seeing these grant recipients continue to make a positive impact on the lives of children and families.”

Southland RISE was created in 2019 by UChicago Medicine and Advocate Health to strengthen and integrate the two health systems’ violence recovery and trauma programs. The two organizations also wanted to collaborate with community partners on solutions to violence and trauma. The effort was inspired by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin’s Project HEAL (Hospital Engagement, Action and Leadership), which urges Chicagoland’s healthcare providers to help reduce community violence and address healthcare needs associated with violence recovery.

The need for more trauma resiliency programming — with a focus on violence prevention and trauma recovery — is regularly cited as a top priority for South Side residents. UChicago Medicine’s latest Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) found that violent crime was the top health concern among surveyed South Side residents. The showed that the South Side had one of the state’s highest firearm injury hospitalization rates for children and young adults. Residents also said the region lacked adequate mental health care.

The 2022 Southland RISE summer grant awardees are all 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations that provide community programs within the areas served by Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn and the University of Chicago Medical Center, the Hyde Park-based hub of UChicago Medicine’s health system.

“The funding from Southland RISE will allow our organization to provide mental health support this summer to help our girls navigate the challenges that life brings,” said Jamila Trimuel, the Founder and CEO of Ladies of Virtue, a two-time grant recipient that provides mental health counseling to girls ages 9 to 18 in Chicago’s Kenwood, Bronzeville, South Chicago, Auburn Gresham, South Shore, Grand Boulevard and West Englewood neighborhoods.

The use of the grant funding varies greatly from program to program.

“Funding from Southland RISE allows the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago to show up for the youth in our community on the blocks where they live and play,” said Tara B. Dabney, Director of Development and Communications for the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago, a 2022 grant recipient. “Working with youth to create safe spaces to share food, laugh together and build relationships is vital to creating vibrant, just and peaceful communities.”

The 2022 recipients and programs are:

Alliance of the Southeast (ASE)

Youth Leadership Council (YLC)

Alliance of the Southeast (ASE) provides leadership training to African-American and Latino youth (ages 12-19) to give them a voice in the community, engage them in positive activities and unite youth around anti-violence initiatives. The ASE Youth Leadership Council moves youths from being a perpetrator, victim or witness of violence, to empowering them to proactively create their own solutions to address neighborhood issues and take ownership of their community.


Circle of Roses

ConTextos harnesses the power of literary and art education to promote healing and reflection while fostering critical thinking and dialogue through personal storytelling. The Southland RISE grant will expand ConTextos’ Circle of Roses program, a five-month writing and storytelling effort that serves eight women from Chicago's Roseland Neighborhood. Participants will build the individual ability to adapt and be resilient while confronting and healing from past trauma or chronic exposure to cycles of violence and harm.

Fathers, Families & Healthy Communities

Young Fathers: Create a Trauma-Informed System of Care for Young Fathers

Through peer support groups, sector-driven job training, placement and skill-building services, Fathers, Families & Healthy Accomplishments Communities (FFHC) creates opportunities for fathers to meaningfully connect with their children, their families and their communities. Grant funding will help sustain an organizational commitment to understanding and responding appropriately to signs of trauma, training staff in trauma awareness, and creating an atmosphere that is peaceful, safe and empowering for fathers and staff.

Grand Boulevard Prevention Services

Pass the Baton of Peace

Support from the Southland Rise grant will uplift the mission of Grand Boulevard Prevention Services (GBPS), which works to prevent underage drinking, substance abuse and violence among youth. The support will allow the organization to continue to forge its presence and message to the community throughout the summer with events like the Virtual Youth Talk Peace Sessions throughout the Grand Boulevard, Washington Park and Douglas neighborhoods.

Institute for Nonviolence Chicago

Back of the Yards Violence Reduction Project

The Institute for Nonviolence Chicago accomplishes its mission of replacing the cycle of violence using the principles, practices and teaching of nonviolence in Austin, West Garfield Park and Back of the Yards. The organization uses a combination of street outreach, victim advocacy, case management, nonviolence training, workforce development and community organizing activities. The Back of the Yards Violence Reduction Project offers street outreach, conflict mediations and more than 15 pop-up events to reduce the rate of gun violence in Back of the Yards.

Jackson Park Yacht Club Foundation

Open Horizons Youth Sailing Program

The Jackson Park Yacht Club Foundation’s Open Horizons Youth Sailing Program provides sailing instruction to teach youth trauma resiliency, conflict resolution, violence prevention and teamwork. Targeting low-income, at-risk youth of color ages 8 to 18, the program utilizes sailing adventure therapy to address trauma resiliency by decreasing anxiety and increasing adaptability in youth suffering from trauma.

Ladies of Virtue

Ladies of Virtue Summer Mental Health Program

Ladies of Virtue instills purpose, passion and perseverance in girls ages 9 to 18 while preparing them for college, careers and to become agents of change in their communities. Funding from this grant will help provide large group, small group and individual mental health counseling to 50 South Side girls. It will also support parent workshops, which will focus on requested topics such as trauma-informed care, adolescent mental health and social-emotional development in young people. All counseling and workshops would be delivered via video conference by a licensed mental health professional.

Male Mogul Initiative Inc. NFP

Become a Mogul Program

The Male Mogul Initiative positively transforms the way young men live and lead in their communities through leadership and entrepreneurship development. The group aims to help a generation of young men realize their potential and make the impossible possible in their lives. The Become a Mogul Program will host entrepreneurial activities to help 25 youth transform ideas into ventures, creating a sense of community as well as practicing community members' ideas for how to reduce violence. The program aims to build relationships by providing models, tools and techniques for learning as a means for their leadership development.

People Matter

Build My Block: Green City

People Matter is a community-based organization whose mission is to uplift, unearth and untether people through direct service, political education, grassroots organizing and narrative shift work. Build My Block will train 20 South Side youth ages 14 to 18 in sustainable city design, environmental justice and leadership skills to transform their neighborhoods into greener and healthier communities.

St. Josephine Bakhita Church

Project Peace

The goal of Project Peace is to strengthen the resilience of youth to confront neighborhood violence with nonviolent responses. For four weeks during the summer, youth are invited to St. Josephine Bakhita Church to be introduced to a 40-hour curriculum around nonviolent direct action that is focused on the African-American youth in South Shore and contiguous community areas. Twenty-five youth in grades 7 through 12 will be recruited through local community organizations, schools and churches.

Teamwork Englewood

Teamwork Englewood Re-entry

Teamwork Englewood works to build capacity, empower local residents, attract resources and be a catalyst for positive community change in the greater Englewood community. In 2009, Teamwork Englewood established a Re-entry Department to focus on clients who are returning from an incarceration to connect them with reentry agencies across the city. Teamwork Englewood’s strategy ensures that their clients, some of whom have never had a job, gain access to a steady income to support their own reintegration to society.

TGi Movement

Omega Chi Omega

Omega Chi Omega is a youth program created by TGi Movement to be the catalyst for youth development on the Southwest side of Chicago. The program carries the essence of African-American fraternities, which were borne out of a need for Black college students to develop a sense of community within predominantly white institutions. With Southland RISE funds, the Omega Chi Omega program will be able to accomplish their goals and serve 15 youth (ages 13 through 24) from the communities of Chicago Lawn, West Lawn, Gage Park, Englewood and West Englewood.

The Neighborhood Network Alliance

Walk Talk and Roll

The Neighborhood Network Alliance connects, convenes and collaborates block by block with residents, nonprofits and institutions to equip neighbors with the resources to empower cooperative community management and revitalization. Walk Talk and Roll is a public safety project that provides neighbors an opportunity to get to know one another by meeting up and walking the neighborhood every Tuesday evening during the summer months and a night bike ride the first Friday of each month.

Think Outside Da Block

Roll N Peace

Think Outside Da Block aims to build community while improving the quality of life for disadvantaged youth to address the root causes of social norms and health. Roll N Peace — a series of community bike rides with the intent to travel through the most "high-risk" areas — advocates for public safety, community interactions, building relationships with the Chicago Police Department, partnering with other local organizations and granting the community residents a safe summer by serving as a violence deterrent.

True Star Foundation

#ChangeChi Violence Prevention Program

With support from Southland RISE, the True Star Foundation is expanding the #ChangeChi violence prevention campaign with the ultimate goal of reducing violence in communities within the South Side of Chicago. #ChangeChi is a violence prevention, safety and equity campaign with the objective of ensuring that schools, police and young people have the tools to de-escalate conflict within homes, classrooms and communities.

Urban Male Network

Build brotherhood, self-confidence and social interaction for young men

Urban Male Network will provide a six-week summer program where mentees will be divided into mentor-led groups who assist young men in building intentional relationships based on respect, trust and accountability. The program is designed to build self-confidence and time management skills to become better leaders of tomorrow.

WatchGuard Chicago

"We Got Us" Young Men's Summer Development Program

WatchGuard began its neighborhood watch program in Bronzeville in 2019 when neighbors began patrolling their own blocks to deter violent crime. The "We Got Us" Men's Development Program trains young men, ages 16 to 24, to be community stewards through economics, martial arts and cultural studies. The program enables WatchGuard to support young men who are prone to being either the victims of or the perpetrators of intercommunal violence, presupposing them as assets and protectors of the community rather than threats.

What About the Children Here (W.A.T.C.H)

One Block, One Porch, One Book

Since 2017, W.A.T.C.H. has served over 300 students in grades 1 through 8 by engaging them in summertime reading. The One Block, One Porch, One Book Program exposes elementary school children to the joy of reading and monitors their increased self-confidence and overall well-being as a result of the exposure to books and reading. In exposing youth to books and reading, W.A.T.C.H. hopes to thwart the gap in reading below grade level.