5 struggling communities get help crafting own crime solutions

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Children march in an annual Peace Walk held by the Alliance of Local Service Organizations in Humboldt Park. The group is participating in an initiative by the business group Get In Chicago to help violence-prone communities craft their own crime solutions. Provided photo.

Austin. Englewood. Humboldt Park. North Lawndale. Roseland.

Five of the city’s most violence-prone neighborhoods will participate in an innovative project by the anti-violence business group Get In Chicago to see if communities can craft their own solutions to crime.

“Violence is a serious problem for Humboldt Park. We’re ranked fifth among the city’s 77 communities for violent crime, but violence happens in a context, not in a vacuum,” said Lori Crowder, executive director of Humboldt Park’s Alliance of Local Service Organizations.

“We know things like high-school dropout and expulsion rates, unemployment, and lack of civic engagement all lead to violence, and we expect to hear and address those themes as we engage the community on the CCRE project,” Crowder said.

The Community Collaboration and Resident Empowerment initiative sought proposals that would partner established nonprofits with looser resident groups to identify community-specific issues impacting crime rates in phase one; then address them in phase two.

Crowder’s group — partnered with the Logan Square Ecumenical Alliance — was among five such teams awarded $300,000 in planning grants. The grants will fund diverse frameworks for bringing stakeholders in those communities together in a series of forums or town halls over the next several months. Action plans are expected out of those old-fashioned community meetings.

Get In Chicago is the business group solicited by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to help fight escalating violence in the wake of the killing of 15-year-old King College Prep honor student Hadiya Pendleton on Jan. 29, 2013, a slaying that made national headlines.

Headed by Allstate CEO Tom Wilson and Loop Capital Markets CEO Jim Reynolds, the business group was charged with raising $50 million to fund programs targeting at-risk youths. To date, some $17.6 million has been awarded to 54 nonprofits serving 9,500 youth and parents, Get In Chicago says.

This latest request for proposals is an effort to try something new.

“Research shows that communities are safer when residents feel empowered. We are funding interventions that respect and utilize local knowledge in addition to evidence based practice,” said Get In Chicago Executive Director Toni Irving. “CCRE grants will give residents an opportunity to collaborate, build trust, have their voices heard, and design their own blueprint for change.”

Also selected out of 23 proposals were Westside Health Authority and Every Block A Village in Austin; in Englewood, Teamwork Englewood; in North Lawndale, I AM ABLE Center for Family Development and TRI4M Network Partners; in Roseland, Metropolitan Family Services and its Calumet Center Advisory Council that includes groups such as Kids Off The Block.

“The reason why this project is so important is because solutions to violence must be reflective of the various entities within the community in order to have impact,” said Audrena Spence, executive director of the Calumet Center.

“With Roseland, what you hear is a lot of negative things: violence, unemployment, schools that are challenged, homes that are boarded up and abandoned,” she said. “But while it may appear to be fragmented, there are so many great things that are going on, and some strong entities within the community. This is about how do we all come together to change the landscape of Roseland?”

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