A few weeks ago, more than 400 youth from six Brighton Park schools met to tackle some of the challenges they face in their community — from police violence and unhealthy relationships to adultism and violations of immigrants’ rights.
As a young boy growing up on the South Side of Chicago, Rasheed Sami faced struggles that no child should. Some days, there wasn’t food on his table. Today, Rasheed, who’s almost 30, uses those struggles to empower others who face similar circumstances. Most recently in his journey to healing, Rasheed attended an educational symposium designed to teach South Chicago residents about trauma, how it can manifest in your life and tips to better respond to its effects.
In addition to living in an area known as a “food desert,” Deborah was working on a tight budget. Instead of trying to stretch her dollars at the closest affordable store, she stopped at Blue Cap Pantry, a food bank serving Blue Island, Robbins and the surrounding communities each and every Tuesday. Housed in a bright, airy warehouse in Blue Cap’s building, the pantry opened last September to bring healthy food options to the region.
Despite its great cultural and economic contributions to Chicago, Bronzeville is still recovering from decades of disinvestment. To address the existing inequities, a local non-profit is making long-term plans to revitalize the community through its workforce. To spur lasting change, Bright Star Community Outreach invests in Bronzeville’s future — its youth.
In the winter months of 2016, Claudia Gonzalez*, a mother of three living in Brighton Park, unexpectedly lost her job. Though she aggressively searched for alternative employment, she couldn’t keep up with rent payments for her apartment.
At the start of the school year, Jesus Alvarez was “going downhill.” His homework went unfinished most nights, his assignments were marked with Ds and Fs and his behavior was disorderly, as he was causing fights and berating teachers. For many students who grow up in Jesus’s neighborhood of Brighton Park, these behaviors can be signs of the multi-faceted challenges that they’re facing at home – challenges such as poverty, effects of disinvestment in schools, absent or overworked parents, homelessness, neighborhood violence and the pressure of working to provide for their families.
Many residents of Auburn Gresham, a neighborhood of 35,000 located on Chicago’s South Side, face great academic and financial challenges. Though statistics are staggering, local stakeholders – including teachers, school administrators and parents – aren’t accepting the status quo. Instead, they’re fighting to ensure a better future for all who call Auburn Gresham home.
As leaders of their schools, principals play a crucial role in the success of students. United Way of Metro Chicago appreciates their contribution and is proud to highlight the principals who work in our Neighborhood Networks during Principal Appreciation Week.