Hundreds of Youth and Parents Rally on March 7th to Protest Gov. Quinn’s Plan to Eliminate Community Youth Services
Restore Community Youth Services Grant Line
for FY2011 and FY2012 NOW!
Rally Brought Together Youth, Parents and Community Residents and Leaders from 17 Metro Chicago Organizations Including: Alternatives, Inc., Ark of St Sabina, Better Life for Youth, Bishop Shepard Little Memorial Center, Chicago Area Project (CDTES), Englewood Street Alternative Program, Exodus Drum & Bugle, Hegewisch Community Committee, Lawndale Christian Community Center, Major Adams Community Committee, Mid-Austin Steering Committee, Mildred Franks Foundation Scouting Network, South Shore Drill Team, St. Malachy, Wentworth Residents United for Survival, and St. Agatha Family Empowerment (SAFE).
(Chicago, IL) Hundreds of Youth, Parents and Community Residents and Leaders representing 17 Metro Chicago Organizations held an African American Community Rally on Monday, March 7, at Chicago Area Project (CDTES), 605 S. Albany, in Chicago. Their message: Restore Community Youth Services Grant Line for FY2011 and FY2012 NOW! That means restoring the Community Youth Services (Community Services) Grant Line for the balance of FY 2011 (4-month budget: $1,788,060) and restoring Community Youth Services (Community Services) Grant Line for FY 2012 (12-month budget: $5,364,180).
Rally participants are among thousands statewide who are protesting Governor Pat Quinn’s budget proposal that would eliminate over 300 youth programs, prevention services and community-based groups that serve over 70,000 teens and adolescents and more than 30,000 in Illinois. The Quinn proposal, which cancels out the Community Youth Services grant line for the rest of FY2011 and for FY2012, would be a death knell for grass-roots organizations affiliated with Chicago Area Project (CAP) and the Illinois Council of Area Projects (ICAP)—organizations working on the front-lines with at-risk youth and their families.
The African American Community Rally is one of two simultaneous protest actions that took place in Chicago on March 7, 2011. A Hispanic Families’ Press Conference will also take place on Monday, March 7, 2011, 11 a.m. at the National Museum of Mexican Art, 852 W 19th St. in Chicago. Over 100 Hispanic families from 7 Metro Chicago organizations are expected to participate.
The elimination of the Community Youth Services grant line would drastically reduce or eliminate 55 Chicago Area Project grass roots affiliate organizations and several CAP programs in Metropolitan Chicago including the 17 organizations serving African American youth and their families that are participating in the March 7th rally. These participates included:
Alternatives, Inc. (Uptown, Rogers Park)
Ark of St Sabina (Englewood)
Better Life for Youth (West Garfield)
Bishop Shepard Little Memorial Center (Back of the Yards/Englewood)
Chicago Area Project (Career Development, Training & Employment Services/CDTES)
Englewood Street Alternative Program (Englewood)
Exodus Drum & Bugle (Austin)
Hegewisch Community Committee (Hegewisch, East Side)
Lawndale Christian Community Center (Lawndale)
Major Adams Community Committee (Near West Side)
Mid-Austin Steering Committee (Austin)
Mildred Franks Foundation
Scouting Network (Avalon, Grand Crossing, Chatham)
South Shore Drill Team (Grand Crossing, South Shore, City Wide)
St. Malachy (West Side)
Wentworth Residents United for Survival (Wentworth Gardens)
St. Agatha Family Empowerment (SAFE) (West Side)
The African American Community Rally and the Hispanic Families’ Press Conference are two of several protest actions undertaken by affected organizations and programs throughout Illinois. Other actions include a letter writing and phone call campaign that is targeting Gov. Quinn and state legislators. A youth-leader created facebook campaign and a petition drive are also in progress. Delegations of concerned community residents are also visiting their state representatives and state senators.
Master-of-Ceremonies for the African American Community Rally was Karlyn Boens, a member of the Mid-Austin Steering Committee, Exodus Drum and Bugle, and the Chicago Area Project/Youth as Resources Leadership Team. Karlyn is an example of Chicago Area Project’s and Illinois Council of Area Project’s emphasis on training youth, not only to succeed in life, but also become leaders and positive role models in their communities. Karlyn, who recently become a minister at Prince of Peace Baptist Church, handled her MCing task with a grace and charm that was commented on by many in attendance.
Among the programs on the chopping block in African American communities are crucial after school programs that keep young people off the streets and out of trouble and help them succeed in school. The need to keep these programs open is voiced by many youth including Karlyn Boens. “I don’t see how they would ever want to take our funds away,” says Karlyn. “We need our funds. Without them our youth are left hopeless because we would have no place to go to get help with homework and every day youth problems.” Karlyn also pointed out the importance of extracurricular activities that keep youth from being outside on the street or wasting time in their houses. Karlyn’s advice to Gov. Quinn: “Don’t take our funds. Give them back NOW!”
The t-shirts worn at the rally also sent a strong message to Gov. Quinn. Many youth people wore t-shirts that said “What About Us?” on the front and “Where do we Go Now?” on the back. Parents and concerned community residents and leaders wore t-shirts that said “Educate, Recreate or Incarcerate!” on the front and “Local People Taking Local Action for Local Solutions” on the back
Many other youth are voicing their opposition to Gov. Quinn’s plan to cut the Community Youth Services grant line. These include Shania Brown and Shanovia Moore from Wentworth Residents United for Survival. “Where would I go without after school programs?,” asks Shania. “ I look forward to going to our community center for activities to stay out of trouble or to learn. To have a community that supports me is a blessing.” Shanovia, a college student, credits the Wentworth Gardens’ after school program with helping her achieve academic success. “The programs that Chicago Area Project provides to the community are the programs that kept me occupied as a child,” states Shanovia. “The program influenced me and later I began to volunteer on my spare time. It would be devastating to lose something with such a good cause. I’m a college student who enjoys working with and helping others. Please try to save Wentworth Gardens’ children by saving the after school program.”
Organizations and programs supported by the Community Youth Services grant line are also teaching non-violence skills that are keeping youth out of trouble and out of jail. Ryuan Johnson, 10, from EXODUS and the Mid-Austin Community Committee, for example, points out that the programs she belongs to are keeping children from being involved in shootings. And Erika Metcalf from Wentworth Gardens emphasizes that her program teaches teen to get along instead of fighting. “My community has a lot of new people and a lot of violence tried to start,” says Erika, “but because of the program, we became friends instead of enemies with the new people. This program helps prevent violence from starting and is very needed in the Wentworth Gardens Community.”
Another concern for African American parents is the loss of summer programs. “Our parents are concerned about their kids being unattended and getting into trouble over the long hot summer,” states Glen Hilton, Executive Director of North Suburban Area Project serving Evanston.
The bleak picture of a community without programs funded by Community Youth Services is painted by LaKeisha Evans from Bishop Shepard Little Memorial Center in the Back of the Yards/Englewood area. “What would my community look like without Chicago Area Project and Bishop Shepard Little Memorial Center?,” asks LaKeisha. “My community would be hopeless. No one would see the fun, bright side of life that CAP and my organization offers. There would be a lot of drama!!”
There is also plenty of evidence that eliminating the Community Youth Services grant line will end up costing Illinois taxpayers several million dollars as un-served high-risk youth end up in the expensive juvenile justice system.
“These programs, which cost taxpayers less than $500/youth/year, focus on juvenile delinquency prevention,” states CAP Executive Director David E. Whittaker. “The cost of keeping youth in juvenile detention is estimated to be up to $80,000/youth/year. If the CAP and ICAP programs close down, many of the at-risk youth we serve are in great danger of ending up in the juvenile justice system. The cost to the State of Illinois would be enormous. If only one percent or 700 of these youth go into juvenile detention, it would cost Illinois $56 million per year—almost 10 times more than the entire Community Youth Services grant line. And that’s just the beginning. Research shows that youth in juvenile detention often become the adult criminals of tomorrow. The question that needs to be asked is, ‘Do you want to pay a little bit now in prevention or pay a whole lot later for incarceration. The message is clear: Restore the Community Youth Services grant line for FY2011and FY2012 NOW!”
For more than 70 years, the Area Project model, which is funded by the Community Youth Services grant line, has demonstrated effectiveness in producing positive outcomes for youth and their families and strengthening civic engagement in communities throughout Illinois. There are 55 organizations employing the Area Project model in high-risk neighborhoods in Chicago (see list below) and 232 organizations using the Area Project model working in communities of need throughout Illinois. The Area Projects are the only statewide program focused on the development of organizations created and led by local community residents. These organizations address systemic and community factors influencing youth crime and violence, thereby enhancing youth protective factors with community.
“The youth of Illinois are the future of Illinois,” emphasizes Whittaker. “Governor Quinn and the State Legislature needs to immediately restore the Community Youth Services grant line for F2011 and FY2012. Without appropriate funding levels these programs will close, jeopardizing the safety, security, well-being—and future—of youth throughout the State of Illinois.”
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