Healing Through Justice
A Youth-led Breakthrough Strategy For Healing-Centered Communities
One of Five Global Awardees of the
W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s $80 Million
Racial Equity 2030 Challenge.
At a time when we are facing a national youth mental health crisis, Chicago youth are leading a first-of-its kind partnership between Communities United and Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago to advance youth-led solutions that promote community healing.
Communities United was recently awarded $10 million through the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Racial Equity 2030 Challenge. The award will support CU’s partnership with Lurie Children’s to advance “Healing Through Justice: A Community-led Breakthrough Strategy for Healing Centered Communities.”
Our initiative was selected among 1,453 submissions from 72 countries around the world after a process of multiple levels of review, feedback, and diligence involving peer applicants and multi-disciplined experts from across the world.
HEALING THROUGH JUSTICE YOUTH-LED PROCESS
Communities United develops Healing Through Justice framework out hundreds of narratives of young people who experience healing through their involvement.
CU develops partnership with John Walkup MD, Chair, Pritzker Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Lurie Children’s Hospital.
The Healing Through Justice Initiative named as one of top ten finalists in W.K Kellogg Foundation's Racial Equity 2030 Challenge.
Youth leaders present on Healing Through Justice at the National Community Leadership Summit, hosted by the Vital Village Networks at Boston Medical Center.
Youth lead MLK day event on systemic racism in the health system with over 200 health practitioners and leaders from Lurie Children’s.
Youth leaders give testimony at the Illinois Public Safety and Anti-Violence Task Force on survivor-led solutions.
CU & Lurie Children's present to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors on the Healing Through Justice Initiative.
The Healing Through Justice Initiative named among one of five global awardees of the W.K Kellogg Foundation's Racial Equity 2030 Challenge.
CU & Lurie Children's hold roundtable with young women of color, gender non-conforming youth, and health practitioners of color to share their stories and identify resources needed to support healing.
CU Youth leaders in partnership with Lurie Children’s release “Changing the Beat of Mental Health” a youth-led research on the challenges and solutions to address the mental health and wellness among young men of color.
What is Healing Through Justice?
Over the past 10 years, Communities United developed the Healing Through Justice (HTJ) model, a youth leadership approach that acknowledges that the process of young people acting on their vision and solutions to address issues impacting them and their families can lead to transformative health and mental health outcomes.
Through its HTJ model, CU engages young people of color who conduct youth-led research, build alliances, and lead strategies and advocacy campaigns that are grounded in their lived experiences to create change in their communities.
In partnership with John Walkup, MD, Chair, Pritzker Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Lurie Children’s, the Healing Through Justice model has emerged as a promising model to create breakthroughs in the field of youth development and mental health. Communities United and Lurie Children’s are embarking on an 8-year path to document, evaluate, and disseminate new youth-led strategies, and their engagement with systems, to address deep-rooted challenges facing youth of color across our city.
"It’s very exciting to know that our work is being recognized, especially at this moment when we are seeing a lot of need for healing in our communities. Being part of the work to create change in my community has helped me in my healing journey, and I have witnessed the same effect on my friends. We are ready to continue to grow our work and engage institutions on how they can support our vision for healing in our communities."
–Bezaleia "Bezzy" Reed, Communities United Youth Leader
MEET SOME MEMBERS OF OUR TEAM:
Laqueanda was born and raised on Chicago’s west side, and has a deep understanding of the inequities faced by Black and Brown communities. Having studied public health at DePaul University, Laqueanda has been instrumental to the...
John Walkup, MD
Chair of the Pritzker Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago
Over the course of his career Dr. Walkup has moved from developing the evidence base for the treatment of childhood onset mental health conditions to addressing through community based participatory...
Healing Through Justice Trainer
Emily Jade Aguilar
Co-Executive Director of Communities United
Co-Executive Director of Communities United
Maria Paula Degillo
VOYCE Coordinator & Youth Director
Meyiya Coleman started as a volunteer youth leader with Communities United when she was in high school, and is now a Youth Organizer working to develop a next generation of young people as leaders in our communities. She was...
Marques is a youth leader organizing to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline and uplift solutions driven by young people to redefine what it means to be safe in our schools and communities. He also serves as president of the...
Emily got involved with CU in 2016 as a youth leader, in 2020 she became CU’s Operational Manager. As a proud transgender woman of color, Emily has devoted her life to the young people of Chicago and creating safe spaces for...
Raul has developed and evolved the organization’s approach to healing-centered youth development which has served as a catalyst for this breakthrough initiative. This work has been recognized with a "Hope & Courage" Award from...
Jenny has 18 years of organizing experience, drawing on her own lived experience. Jenny has supported young people in creating the nation’s most comprehensive statewide school discipline reform in Illinois, advancing innovative solutions...
Maria Paula started with the organization in 2006 as a volunteer youth leader after she was pushed out of school. In 2016, she became the Youth Director and Coordinator with the Voices of Youth in Chicago Education...
Over the past 10 years, Communities United developed the Healing Through Justice model, which positions youth to act on visions to address issues impacting their peers and families. This transformative effort has led to a partnership with Pritzker Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Lurie Children’s Hospital to create youth development and mental health breakthroughs.
The foundation is making a long-term commitment, granting $80 million over the next eight years to five innovative organizations, each of which takes a community-centered approach to tackling the obstacles they face. “We see this challenge as one way to sustain the growing movement for racial equity,” Tabron said. “By changing systems of inequity today, we can create a brighter future for children around the world.” The five grantees were selected from more than 1,400 applications representing 72 countries. Learn how these visionaries will use these resources for long-lasting impact.
For years, Bezaleia “Bezzy” Reed watched her brother Caleb advocate for racial and social justice issue, his life was cut short when he was shot in July 2020, Bezzy joined Communities United to honor her brother, who had been a youth leader at the grassroots organization. The activism helped her heal from her brother’s death. Now, thanks to a $10 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the racial justice organization will be able to help thousands more Black and Latino youth in partnership with the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital.
Over the past year, Communities United and Lurie Children’s moved through a process of multiple levels of review and feedback involving peer applicants and multi-disciplined experts from across the world to bring their plan to scale with a $1 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The duo are now the recipients of $10 million by the foundation to turn their plan to practice. The money will be paid out over eight years to coincide with W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s 100th anniversary in 2030.
President and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation on the Racial Equity 2030 initiative and reveals five awardees who will split $80 million to go toward the future of racial equity.
Communities United youth organizer Emily Jade Aguilar works with a group of girls and young women. She said simply having people and place to meet can go a long way toward making young people feel connected to each other and reducing violence.
In collaboration with Lurie Children's Hospital, young researchers with the racial justice organization Communities United conducted a study focused on the mental health and well-being of Black and Brown young men in Chicago. The report titled "Changing the Beat of Mental Health" identifies mental health challenges and provides recommendations on how to cope.
The research — presented Monday at Lurie Children’s in the hopes of securing $20 million to foster youth-led strategies on community healing and bettering mental health in Chicago.
Most young men of color, interviewed by their peers in a recent study, say they face mental health challenges. They also see a deep connection between systemic inequities and mental health, although they often internalize the blame, according to a report being released today titled "Changing the Beat of Mental Health." The research report was compiled primarily by the Ujima Project, a group of young men of color aged 14 to 19 from across the city, in conjunction with Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital and social equity organization Communities United.
An intergenerational racial justice organization in Chicago, are working together to center the leadership and voices of Black and Brown young men of color in their ongoing efforts to transform the mental and behavioral healthcare system. Core to this effort is Ujima, a group of young men of color ages 14-21 who have conducted a research study throughout the duration of the pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of Black and Brown young men in Chicago, culminating in a report titled “Changing the Beat of Mental Health.” Ujima, the group’s name, is a Swahili word meaning collective work and responsibility.
The hospital was host Monday as research was presented by young people for young people. Changing the Beat of Mental Health focuses on young men and boys of color. Monday's virtual and in-person discussion was led by two youth researchers. "Can't nobody tell the youth what to do, so now we just out here no one to help us guide us so we can do better," said Communities United Ujima Youth Researcher D'Angelo Moore.
Un estudio que se llevó a cabo en algunas de las comunidades menos favorecidas reveló que el origen de los problemas de seguridad en los que se ven envueltos los adolescentes es la falta de recursos. La investigación sugiere que los edificios abandonados sean convertidos en centros comunitarios y que se creen programas gratuitos que promuevan el arte, las actividades físicas y los juegos en línea.
With Chicago violence at a fever pitch, a new study looked at the mental health of young men of color. The study, conducted in part by Anne and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, is trying to make health care better for everyone. The study recruited young African American and Hispanic men to conduct their own research, among their peers, to determine what was impacting their mental health the most. They found systematic inequity and the normalization of trauma were the leading factors to a worsening mental state.
Communities United, in partnership with Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, is the only Chicago-based finalist of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Racial Equity 2030 Challenge, an open call for bold solutions to drive an equitable future for children, families and communities across the globe. Lurie Children’s Hospital and Communities United have been working together for years on issues like mental health and equity.
New research shows that trauma and inequity lead to worsening mental health in young men of color in Chicago. That's according to the group Ujima. They conducted their research on Black and Brown men in Chicago, including surveys, interviews and focus groups. While 59% would consider professional counseling if given the chance and 62% reported facing challenges with their mental health.
The plan, “Healing Through Justice: A Community-Led Breakthrough Strategy for Healing-Centered Communities” is a 10-year road map to foster youth-led strategies on community healing that centers youth leadership in creating institutional change on mental health. The medical institution and grassroots organization will bring the plan to scale over the next nine months with a $1 million planning grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Racial Equity 2030 Challenge.
The partnership between Communities United and Lurie Children's Hospital was picked as a finalist in the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Racial Equity 2030 Challenge. The Foundation plans to award $90 million to those with "bold solutions to drive an equitable future for all" that will "transform racialized systems where they live."