Southland RISE grants $100,000 to violence recovery, prevention programs

Chicago Eco House executive director Quilen Blackwell works with two unidentified participants in the group’s summer program. (Contributed photo)


Southland RISE, a joint violence recovery and trauma care program run by the University of Chicago and Advocate Christ medical centers, has granted $100,000 to 14 South Side violence recovery and prevention programs.

“Growing and sustaining the violence recovery and trauma care ecosystem in the Southland relies on engaged communities and collaboration, both at the institutional and grassroots levels,” said Brenda Battle, vice president of the U. of C.’s Urban Health Initiative, in a statement. “Through Southland RISE, we are building upon UChicago Medicine’s established grant program to support even more organizations and serve more young people with vital summer programming designed to keep them safe.”

The programs provide music, boxing, gardening, storytelling and beekeeping opportunities for South Side youth on summer break. The U. of C. began issuing the grants in 2017; two local organizations, Chicago Eco House and the Woodlawn Re-entry Project, have received grant money more than once.

The Eco House works with youth in Englewood, West Woodlawn and West Garfield Park to transform vacant lots into fruit, vegetable and flower plots. It used last year’s grant to expand in West Woodlawn and is using this year’s money to install beehives and to train participants in beekeeping.

“We’re teaching kids that it’s possible to turn something that looks like nothing into something that’s positive and is a viable asset,” said executive director Quilen Blackwell in a statement. “This grant and partnership enable it to happen.

The Re-entry Project provides post-release education and support for ex-offenders and at-risk teens and young adults, including those in Hyde Park-Kenwood.

Southland RISE (Resilience Initiative to Strengthen and Empower) was founded in 2018 in response to U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin’s (D-Ill.) Chicago HEAL (Hospital Engagement, Action and Leadership) initiative. Durbin announced its creation with Battle at an April press conference in Woodlawn. The Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn hosts the south suburbs’ only trauma care center.