Southland RISE awards $100,000 to 14 grassroots violence prevention programs on the South Side
Through music, boxing, gardening, storytelling and even beekeeping, grassroots organizations on Chicago’s South Side are finding creative and constructive ways to keep young people engaged and safe during the summer months — an especially critical time when students are out of school and need access to safe venues and activities.
To support these efforts, the newly formed Southland RISE (Resilience Initiative to Strengthen and Empower) collaborative awarded $100,000 in grant funding to 14 community-based organizations for their summer violence prevention and recovery programs.
Launched in April 2019, Southland RISE is a collaborative powered by Hyde Park-based UChicago Medicine and Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. The two medical centers are strengthening and integrating existing violence recovery and trauma care services throughout the South Side and across the south suburbs.
The grants to support summer violence recovery and prevention programs represent the first of several objectives Southland RISE committed to achieving during the collaborative’s first two years. Other priorities include aligning and integrating trauma care services across organizations, developing trauma-informed care training models and hosting a community summit.
“Southland RISE is committed to being a part of a comprehensive solution to address the violence that is plaguing our community,” said Matthew Primack, president of Advocate Christ Medical Center. “In an effort to build upon the great work that is underway, we want to invest in these grassroots organizations that are focused on prevention, intervention and trauma-informed treatment. By working together we can build more support for these non-profit partners to better meet the needs of our community.”
This is the third consecutive year these “rapid-cycle” violence prevention, intervention and recovery grants have been awarded to community-based organizations. The program, named for the expedited application timeframe that ensures funds are available to organizations at the start of the critical summer months, was initially launched by UChicago Medicine in 2017 based on the recommendation of the health system’s Community Advisory Council.
During its first two years, UChicago Medicine awarded a combined $100,000 in grants to 14 South Side organizations. Through the collaborative, Southland RISE was able to double the amount of funds and number of organizations that received funding for this summer’s grants.
“Growing and sustaining the violence recovery and trauma care ecosystem in the Southland relies on engaged communities and collaboration, both at the institutional and grassroots levels,” said Brenda Battle, vice president of UChicago Medicine’s Urban Health Initiative and chief diversity and inclusion officer. “Through Southland RISE, we are building upon UChicago Medicine’s established grant program to support even more organizations and serve more young people with vital summer programming designed to keep them safe.”
Past recipients used the grants to build the capacity of their summer violence prevention and recovery programs. Some were able to hire more counselors, while other bought new equipment or expanded their programming to include more participants.
Two-time grant recipient Chicago Eco House used last year’s funding to transform vacant lots into vegetable gardens and flower farms in West Woodlawn. This year, the group plans to install beehives and train its teen participants in beekeeping.
“We’re teaching kids that it’s possible to turn something that looks like nothing into something that's positive and is a viable asset,” said Quilen Blackwell, the group’s executive director. “This grant and partnership enable it to happen.”
The 2019 rapid-cycle grant awardees are 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations that operate or deliver services within the areas served by UChicago Medicine and Advocate Christ Medical Center. The full list of recipients is:
Southland RISE was formed in response to Chicago HEAL – Hospital Engagement, Action and Leadership – an initiative launched by U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-IL, in October to urge health care providers on the city’s South and West Sides to bolster their efforts to help reduce violence and address health care needs associated with violence recovery. The issue has been particularly acute in Chicago where police data shows more than 560 residents were killed and nearly 3,000 were injured as a result of gun violence in 2018.
Caring for a combined 6,600 adult trauma patients in 2018, UChicago Medicine and Advocate Christ Medical Center house two of the busiest trauma centers in the Chicago area – treating patients from communities on the South Side and south suburbs. Both provide a suite of violence recovery services to help patients and their families with immediate and long-term needs in managing the physical and mental-health effects of trauma from intentional violence.