Southland RISE awards $150,000 to South Side community-based summer programs focused on trauma and violence prevention

2023 Southland RISE grant recipient organization Fathers, Families, & Healthy Communities (FFHC).

Southland RISE (Resilience Initiative to Strengthen and Empower), a collaborative between the trauma recovery programs of the University of Chicago Medicine and Advocate Health Care, is awarding 19 South Side community organizations with a total of $150,000 for their summer youth programs. These programs will provide more than 5,000 community members with opportunities to participate in a variety of activities that include dance, gardening, video production and sports, while also building their skills around leadership, resiliency and conflict resolution, among others.

Over the past five years, Southland RISE has awarded $650,000 to support more than 50 community-based programs focused on violence prevention and trauma resiliency for youth and families on Chicago’s South Side.

“Young people in every community deserve access to spaces where they are not only safe, but where they can learn, laugh and become leaders,” said Brenda Battle, RN, BSN, MBA, UChicago Medicine’s Senior Vice President for Community Health Transformation and Chief Equity Officer. “Through Southland RISE, UChicago Medicine can partner with more community-based organizations and engage youth and families in creative and diverse programming that emphasizes violence prevention, resiliency from trauma and mental health.”

The 2023 grant recipients will serve community members across 29 neighborhoods and 17 ZIP codes, primarily on the city’s South Side. This year, three Southland RISE grantees are in the south suburbs. . One of the three, Disruptive INC, is serving residents in Harvey, providing STEM-related educational and career development resources to justice-impacted, single mothers who participate in their “Mother’s Day Isn’t Just in May” program.

Disruptive INC founder Catherine McNeil, MA, said her organization was truly grateful for the Southland RISE grant. “Because of this gift and belief in our program, we’re able to fully sponsor so many deserving women and continue our work of engaging mothers who are moving into the next phase of their life post incarceration.”

Southland RISE was launched in 2019 by UChicago Medicine and Advocate Health Care to strengthen and integrate the two health systems’ violence recovery and trauma programs. Through Southland RISE, the two health systems are collaborating with community partners to prevent and mitigate the effects of intentional violence and strengthen trauma resiliency.

“We at Advocate Health Care are excited to see the work these organizations do throughout the summer to lift up children and families in our South Side and Southland neighborhoods,” said Kim Miiller, PsyD, director of the Advocate Trauma Recovery Center. “These organizations empower children and adults through a variety of creative programs, help heal survivors of trauma and work to end the cycle of violence.”

Southland RISE was inspired by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin’s Chicago HEAL Initiative (Hospital Engagement, Action and Leadership), which encourages Chicagoland’s healthcare providers to help reduce community violence and address healthcare needs associated with violence recovery.

Building trauma resiliency is one of the top three health priorities for the South Side service area, according to UChicago Medicine’s latest Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA).

In the Ingalls Memorial Hospital service area in the south suburbs, a top priority is to reduce inequities caused by social determinants of health, including food insecurity and workforce development.

Advocate Health Care’s community strategy addresses the key needs around violence mitigation and prevention. The system’s interventions acknowledge that socioeconomic and environmental conditions where people live, work, play and grow have a direct impact on a wide range of wellness and quality of life outcomes. Advocate Health Care continues to expand the reach and integration of its Trauma Recovery Center services with an eye toward social inequities.

The Southland RISE grant awardees are all 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations within the service areas of Advocate Health Care and UChicago Medicine. Here are the 2023 Southland RISE grant recipients and summaries of their summer programs:

Alpha Illinois Leadership Foundation

The Empowering YOU Project will bring together a team of community leaders to engage at-risk youth in leadership development trainings and activities. Participants will engage in discussions centered on college preparation and career goals, learning financial skills, improving communication skills, and engaging in community service learning.

FFHC is offering a 14-week, curriculum-guided, peer-supported program for formerly incarcerated fathers of all ages. The program utilizes a trauma-informed care program model to create an environment that is peaceful, safe and empowering for fathers and staff.

Restoring the Path (dba Crushers Club)

Grant funding will help Crushers Club extend its programming hours during the critical summer months with activities that include peer mentoring, employment and job skills training, counseling, boxing, creative arts, recreational activities, field trips and community gatherings. Grant funds will support the summer hours of Crushers Club’s new Trauma Specialist.

Urban Initiatives

Urban Initiative’s Summer Sports Camp provides a fun environment that focuses on social-emotional learning (SEL) for 1st through 5th graders participating at partner schools. Summer of Sport uses sport and play as a vehicle for facilitating social and emotional growth through team sports, camp games, supervised free-play and creative activities. The curriculum focuses on experiential SEL learning that takes place through activities with embedded reflection.

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

The program aims to make reading fun and engaging for children, increase their reading comprehension, and build relationships between schools, families and community organizations. The program's activities include engaging children in reading activities, building libraries within their homes and partnering with local libraries. 

About Southland RISE

Southland RISE (Resilience Initiative to Strengthen and Empower) is a collaborative between the trauma recovery programs of Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn and Hyde Park-based UChicago Medicine. Inspired by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin's HEAL (Hospital Engagement, Action, Leadership) Initiative, the two hospitals work together and alongside community partners to improve long-term trauma recovery care and mitigate violence-related injury on the South Side and in south suburban Chicago.