Today, President Preckwinkle joined Commissioner Dennis Deer, Congressman Danny Davis and community leaders to announce a $1.5 million investment to community-based organizations through the Justice Advisory Council (JAC). The investment is aimed at addressing the root causes of crime and violence by providing mental health and other supportive services, increasing access to jobs, capital and critical social services, and helping build wealth through business and home ownership.
“We’ve learned that we must use a public health approach to address the root causes of violence. That means investing in people and the communities in which they live. This approach has the power to prevent crime before it ever happens,” said President Preckwinkle. “This funding will support the work that has already seen success and is sure to be a catalyst for change in our neighborhoods.”
Since 2015, the JAC has made 325 grants to community organizations totaling $45 million in programming related to violence prevention, recidivism reduction, restorative justice, and more. These programs, which include on-the-street violence-interruption, job training, and mental health counseling, among other services, to help ensure that those at the highest risk of becoming the victims or perpetrators of crime, or falling back into the justice system, are prevented from doing so.
“It is a delight to stand in my home community of North Lawndale, home of the first Restorative Justice Court and where I was born and raised and continue to live,” said Cook County Commissioner Dennis Deer. “There are so many organizations doing wonderful things to combat violence and two of them are getting much needed funding today. I am excited that under President Preckwinkle’s leadership we at Cook County have committed to equity and investing in underserved communities. Gun violence is a public health crisis and today we are taking important steps to intervene.”
$180,000 of the $1.5 million investment will go to two community-based organizations in the Lawndale community of Chicago’s west side. The North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN) will receive $100,000 to provide employment supports for justice involved individuals.
The Sankofa Foundation will receive $80,000 in grant funding to support trauma-informed mental health and restorative justice services in the greater Lawndale community.
“Balanced and restorative justice is a new approach to youth and adult crime that reimagines crime as an act that not only harms people, but also violates relationships in a community,” said Annetta Wilson, Executive Director of Sankofa Child Initiative. “This County funding will help us continue our work moving beyond the punitive and instead lift up restorative justice practices that emphasize healing of the victim, the offender, and the community as a whole.”
The $1.5 million investment is a precursor to Cook County’s overarching strategy aimed at reimagining public safety and criminal justice. Combined with other equity-focused initiatives, the County will invest roughly $120 million in FY21 and FY22 with the advice of the Equity Fund Taskforce, a 50-member group including representatives from other Cook County agencies, advocates, community-based organizations, and philanthropic, civic, and academic institutions.