Girls Like Me Project, a group that helps Black girls ages 11 to 17 critically examine social, cultural and political ideologies in media, will share in $2.5 million in state grants aimed at reducing violent crime in Chicago.
Part of the money will be spent on gardening, storytelling and an all-girl produced talk show that will help teach interpersonal conflict resolution and create bonds of mutual respect and accountability.
“We’re curating safe spaces that cultivate community healing, restoration and peace,” LaKeisha Gray-Sewell, the group’s founder, said during a virtual news conference Thursday.
In all, 23 Chicago nonprofits will receive grants of between $60,000 and $275,000 funded through the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority.
The state relied on Acclivus, a nonprofit it has worked with in the past, to sort through applications and choose grantees.
Acclivus’ main initiative is its hospital response program, which dispatches outreach workers to hospitals after shootings to work with victims and prevent retaliation.
“What I think is very important is, I always say we need to give people from Indigenous folks their own heroes, like how Black Panther was a hero, I think Acclivus is an example of how Black folks not only can manage a large amount of money but also work with other people of color directly,” said Acclivus CEO LeVon Stone.
Stone said his organization opened its books and offered full transparency to gain the confidence of the state to lead the grant program.
State Rep. Justin Slaughter, D-Chicago, said an infusion of federal COVID-19 relief funds into state coffers has given the state the resources to tackle big issues of economic disparity highlighted during the pandemic.
The funding will “catapult us into a new era where we need to reprioritize and reinvest into a myriad of different challenges that have been exposed by the pandemic,” Slaughter said.
Groups receiving grants are:
Girls Like Me Project
Peace Center of Roseland
Second Chance Initiative
The Restorative Project
The Support Group
Think Outside Da Block
Advocates of Change
Ex-Cons for Community and Social Change
Giving Others Dreams GOD INC
Grand Boulevard Prevention Services
Hyde Park Art Center
Hyde Park Neighborhood Club
I Said What I Said
Major Adams Community Committee
The Blessed Child