ENGLEWOOD — Two South Side groups will use funds from the recently announced Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities grants to help young people and prevent violence this summer.
The fund, created in 2016 by the Partnership for Safe and Peace Communities — a coalition of philanthropic organizations — provides financial support to grassroots organizations dedicated to violence prevention, particularly during summer months when gun violence often peaks.
A total of 164 local organizations received funds last week, which will help groups like Talented 10th Mentoring Program handle operating costs for the season.
“It helps me from coming out my pocket,” said founder and executive director Kweli Kwaza, who received $7,500 from the program. “We didn’t do a summer program until last year. Since the pandemic started, we’ve been holding COVID-19 training sessions for the kids on Zoom, talking to them about how to cope while sheltering in place.”
Last year, Talented 10th started an intergenerational gardening program, teaming up with senior residents from a nearby development to work on beautification projects on the Southwest Side. Kwaza was able to expand the project when Rev. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina gifted them an empty lot on the corner of 86th Street and Loomis Avenue.
With social distancing restrictions set to ease in June, the organization plans to have something for kids to do this summer while adhering to safety guidelines.
“The kids will have masks and gloves and will be working at least 6 feet away from one another,” said Kwaza, who received a grant for the second time. “We’ll be keeping them safe.”
Culturally Helping And Making Positive Success, a program better known as C.H.A.M.P.S. that mentors Black and Brown teens headquartered in Greater Grand Crossing, the grant translates into more money for programming to keep kids connected.
“We’re extremely grateful to have received this grant for the second year in a row,” said Chief Operating Officer Gavin Lamb. “We have had to adjust our programming model, and this grant will enable us to be creative in how we connect with and support young men this summer.”
C.H.A.M.P.S holds a weekly virtual mentor call every Saturday morning on Zoom, which serves as a mental health check-in for teens. Thursday, the organization is hosting a virtual town hall, bringing together Black male activists, scholars and nonprofit leaders to discuss “solutions for boys and young men of color.”
Lamb said his groups are building an online curriculum and producing a podcast.
“It’s more important than ever that we connect our youth with caring mentors,” Lamb said. “We really appreciate the Chicago Fund’s flexibility and desire to put resources in the hands of those organizations working to meet the needs of our communities this summer.”
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