Youth & Public Safety

2011-2012 Policy and Social Engagement Fellowship

Faculty Partner: Francesca Gaiba, IRRPP
Community Partners: The Broadway Youth Center, Affinity Community Services, UCAN LGBTQ Host Home Program

During the 2011–2012 academic year, three community organizations (Affinity Community Services, UCAN's LGBTQ Host Home Program, and the Broadway Youth Center) and the UIC Institute for Research on Race & Public Policy came together to build community and create a dialogue in Chicago's LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer and Gender Non Conforming) communities around issues of racism, public safety, and the rights of young people. Funded by a grant from the UIC Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement, we organized a series of events focused around two main lines of community dialogue. First, we held a series of conversations to hear from LGBTQ youth of color in Chicago about their experiences around safety, violence, and policing in different neighborhoods of the city. Second, we had two dialogue events with youth workers in Chicago about the policing and surveillance of youth spaces. To learn more about this project, read our report (PDF 180KB)download.

2010-2011 Policy & Social Engagement Fellowship Project

Faculty Partner: Laurie Schaffner, Sociology
Community Partner: Project Nia

Dr. Schaffner and Project NIA developed an 8-week film/art project with young women in the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center called Girl Talk. During bi-weekly film screenings and art project creation sessions on Saturday afternoons, Girl Talk will give girls the opportunity to feel a sense of community with other girls and women; develop their self-awareness, confidence, and leadership skills; express their concerns and receive information to make better choices; question societal norms and values regarding young women; and craft positive images of themselves. This Dr. Schaffner and Project NIA will develop a replicable 8-week curriculum, including film narratives, suggested "ice-breakers" and themes for discussion, lists of supplies needed, and a description of an art project to go with each film. You can find the final curriculum here (PDF 745KB)download.

2012-2013 Policy & Social Engagement Fellowship Project

Faculty Partner: Sabine French, Psychology
Community Partner: Roseland Pullman Girls & Boys Club

The goal of this project is to revise the current curriculum of the SMART Girls program for 13-17 year old African American girls at the Club. The SMART Girls program focuses on girls' health, fitness, education and self-esteem. It is designed to encourage healthy attitudes and lifestyles that will enable adolescent girls to develop to their full potential. Part one of this program focuses on personal values in dating relationships, date violence and rape, sexual risktaking, sexual myths and truths, and the physical and emotional changes of adolescence. Part two focuses on nutrition, cooking skills, and fitness. This program is distributed by the National Boys & Girls club. As such, it is not specifically targeted to low-income, inner-city, African American girls.

2011-2012 Policy & Social Engagement Fellowship Project

Faculty Partner: Lisa Junkin, Jane Addams Hull House Museum
Community Partner: Conservative Vice Lords members

In the late 1960s, gang members in North Lawndale decided to make a change and enter the civic arena. With funding from major foundations, they organized youth, protested unfair housing policies and working conditions, and opened small businesses. They called themselves Conservative Vice Lords, Inc. In the 1960s, many people doubted their intentions. What would persuade gang members to change? Were the Conservative Vice Lords (CVL) a front for drugs or other illegal activity? Can a gang become a force for positive community change? Today, we might ask: What is the potential of gang members to bring peace to the streets of neighborhoods like North Lawndale, which has the highest murder rate of any community in Illinois?


This ongoing project was created by a partnership between the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum and former CVL members, led by CVL spokesman Bobby Gore and Benneth Lee, co-founder of the National Alliance for the Empowerment for the Formerly Incarcerated. Through never-before-seen images and intimate audio interviews, this exhibit opens a conversation with the broader public. It does not glorify or demonize gangs, but rather challenges widely held views of gang members as unredeemable thugs by demonstrating the efforts of CVL to rise above their circumstances and fight for the life of their community. Learn more and see portions of the exhibit.