It’s Friday!  How about some good news?

As an organization dedicated to discovering the most effective ways to reduce violence, Get IN Chicago dedicates a great deal of time to measurement. Getting results and analyzing data can be a slow process, but in the meantime, our grant recipients are seeing promising changes on the ground.

Alternatives, Inc.
Grant Recipient – Special Funding, Innovation and Restorative Justice

We recently visited Corliss High School in Roseland.  Our team spoke with Kit Helaku, a Restorative Justice Specialist with Alternatives, to learn how the program is making a difference in its first year there.

“One of the ways that I’ve seen it make a difference is that now students are able to speak up, speak out, and speak their truths a little more clearly.  We did a classroom circle with a group of diverse learners recently.  I did the circle around a spoken word piece that one of my guys had written and recorded.  When I played it, all the kids were like, ‘Nah… who is this dude?  This dude ain’t… nah, he’s nothing.’

“So I brought the guy in the next week.  We discussed the state of gun violence here in Chicago.  We discussed what impacts gun violence more – police gun violence against communities of color or gun violence within those communities of color.


“I had a student who was really advocating for himself.  He said, ‘Look, I don’t understand why these people are on the news but my brother just got shot, but there’s no news coverage of him.’

“And we actually had a police officer sit in the circle, describing his experience before he was a cop.  He had a chance to understand and connect with the young people here in the circle.  We had a lot of lively discussion about what actually affects them on a visceral level, on a day-to-day level.  We walked out of that circle with a greater understanding of ourselves, in our communities, and of other people within our communities who have a different perspectives on the same issues that affect us.”

Alternatives, Inc. is set to reach 750 students in the upcoming year with Get IN Chicago funding.  Their model combines one-on-one conversations, peer conferences, and peace circles, all led by a combination of staff, trained teachers, and youth Peace Ambassadors.  Get IN Chicago will support Alternatives’ program at Robeson, Douglass, TEAM Englewood, Hope College Prep, Corliss, and Hirsch high schools in Austin, Englewood, Roseland, and South Shore.


 Check back on upcoming Fridays for feel-good tidbits and stories!