Investing in Chicago’s Youth

The celebration in honor of the Little League U.S. title champion team Jackie Robinson West is giving Chicago a reason to come together in a way we have not seen this summer. Violence that plagues the South and West Sides of the city was put on hold as communities came together for an uplifting display of joy and pride. So how can this momentum transition into a long-term investment for youth in some of the city's most troubled neighborhoods? We discuss with Tim King, founder and CEO of Chicago male charter school Urban Prep, Rhonda Haynes, chief strategy officer at Youth Guidance, a nonprofit focusing on at-risk youth,  and Che "Rhymefest" Smith, Grammy award-winning hip-hop artist, host of talk show "Speak Up" on WVON and assistant director of after-school program Donda's House.

Earlier this summer, Chicago Tonight began Heat of the Summer, a web series, about the men and women working to end violence in their neighborhoods by providing activities and opportunities for local youth. Revisit our profiles below.

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Fighting For Change
Boxing Club Gives Youth Hope One Punch at a Time

Boxing and church don’t seem to go hand in hand. But Beautiful Zion M.B. Church on the city’s South Side is home to the Crushers Club, a boxing gym that helps rehabilitate Englewood’s youth. Last year, Crushers Club took up residence at the church, and since then it has been flooded with young people. Learn more about the club and Sally Hazelgrove, who moved from the suburbs to Englewood determined to make a difference in the community. Watch a video and view a slideshow.

Repairing Broken Winggz
Foundation Helps Paralyzed Gunshot Victims

Not all gunshot victims die, and not all that survive are able to walk. Eric Wilkins was 28 when he was hit by two bullets, paralyzing him. Before he was shot, Wilkins was involved in the streets, selling drugs, drinking and smoking despite having a job. After the shooting, Wilkins wanted to help other paralyzed gunshot victims. Read more about Wilkins and Repairing Broken Winggz, the foundation he created. Watch a video and view a slideshow.

“Emotionally, I feel…”
Building P.E.A.C.E. Over 20 Years

Every week, an intimate group of teens and their instructor check in with each other to see how each person is doing emotionally, physically, and spiritually. The teens are part of a select group participating in One Summer Chicago through the P.E.A.C.E. Community Center, which is trying to help children in the Englewood community. Read an article about the P.E.A.C.E. Community Center.

Bulls’ Noah Joins the Fight Against Chicago Violence

Chicago Bulls star Joakim Noah teamed up with rapper, actor, and Chicago native Common to unveil a new anti-violence program including a star-studded public service announcement. Read an article about Noah’s efforts, view a slideshow, and watch the PSA.


A Mother to the Whole Community
One Woman’s Mission to Provide a Safe Haven
Diane Lanitker opened her home to help Roseland youth to provide them a safe haven from violence. Since Kids Off the Block’s founding in 2003, the organization has expanded beyond the walls of Lanitker’s home as word spread among local youth that there was a woman who would help them. Read an article and watch a video about Kids Off the Block.


I Grow Chicago
Englewood Organization Provides Yoga for All
In Swahili, Kusanya means to collect and gather the people and strengths within the community to build a stronger, more hopeful, and more peaceful neighborhood. Kusanya is also a café in Englewood which has embarked on a journey of bringing hope and love to the community. Read an article and view a slideshow about Kusanya.


Living Your Truth
Arts Program Teaches Young People to Find Their Voice
A vibrant 17-year-old with a beaming smile, Mekel Johnson walked into the room prepared for an interview that could grant him the opportunity to end his summer with a memorable trip. Read an article about Donda’s House.

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