Empowering At-Risk South Side Youth

A $50,000 grant from The Allstate Insurance Company

August 23, 2017

A $50,000 grant from The Allstate Insurance Company enables Adler University’s Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice and Adler Community Health Services programs, along with community partner Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation (PBMR), to provide restorative justice and community-based mentoring to at-risk youth in an underserved South Side neighborhood.

The insurance company’s support will facilitate a more robust infrastructure for 185 youth and their families through “Restoring Health in Back of the Yards”. The initiative kicked off Feb. 1 and will continue through Jan. 31, 2020. It reflects a collaborative effort between Adler University – specifically, the school’s Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice and Adler Community Health Services programs – and Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation (PBMR).

Each partner brings a specific set of services to the program’s shared mission of helping young people and their families to: heal from trauma; develop positive life skills; and reengage with school, job, family, and life opportunities. Led by Fr. David Kelly, PMBR will act as participants’ foundation, safe place, and Restorative Justice, or RJ, Hub for recovery and growth.

Restoring Health in Back of the Yards participants will receive personalized mentoring and supportive services that enable them to complete their education, find and keep jobs, and foster healthier family relationships. Data reflects a 26 percent decrease in recidivism among young offenders who complete RJ programs.

Back of the Yards was selected because of its high need for restorative services. The neighborhood has long maintained a reputation for being gang-ridden and violent. From April 2013 to 2014, the community represented 4.1 percent of Chicago’s population yet accounted for 10.6 percent of its violent crimes. Slightly more than 60 percent of its young adult offenders return to jail or prison within three years of their release. The same data set indicates that the majority of those individuals violate court orders rather than commit new crimes.

The ministry has been serving court-involved and at-risk youth and their families since 2000. Adler University Health Services professionals teamed up with its coordinators in February 2016 to fill the existing Back of the Yards area’s void in mental health care providers.

The University’s student-clinicians assist with outreach and other community-building activities and provide therapeutic services to complement and enhance the ministry’s work. These students are trained in social justice as well as couple and family therapy. The University will also gather data to gauge and improve the initiatives’ impacts. Other integral community partners include INVC; several local elementary, middle, and high schools; Port Ministries; and the Resurrection Project.