The Issue: Violence in the City
After losing family members to senseless violence, 16-year-old Daniel was contemplating retaliation and life on the streets of his neighborhood, Chicago’s Little Village. Instead, he met Jorge Roque, a CeaseFire Violence Interrupter who helped Daniel work through the pain and grief in non-violent ways. Jorge now sees Daniel following in his footsteps in helping others break the cycle of violence in Chicago, where it is desperately needed. Chicago has seen more than 220 homicides in 2014 so far, according to an article from the Chicago Tribune. Often, these are the result of retaliatory violence, creating an unending cycle of death and injury.
The Campaign: Equipping Youth with Alternatives to Violence
All donations to this Grassroots campaign will be used by Cure Violence to teach conflict-resolution skills to high-risk Chicago youth. For every $125 raised, Cure Violence can hold one focus-group workshop devoted to non-violent conflict resolution. Cure Violence is planning to hold 40 total community workshops in neighborhoods across the city, including Englewood, West Garfield Park, and Rogers Park, teaching youth in each skills to solve or mitigate conflicts.
In addition to funding workshops, donations to this campaign will be triple-matched by a Chicago foundation helping Cure Violence add a new CeaseFire site in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood.
In 2011 The Interrupters documentary introduced audiences to three Chicagoans whose job it was to walk the streets of their neighborhoods mediating violent disputes. They were part of CeaseFire—Chicago's Cure Violence program—working with other Violence Interrupters to mediate potentially lethal conflicts in the city. In 2013, CeaseFire workers mediated nearly 700 high-risk conflicts, often by physically standing between feuding individuals, putting their lives at risk to make their communities safer.
In addition to its work in Chicago, Cure Violence operates programs in five other Illinois cities and 22 cities across the US, and across four countries. The organization's founder, Dr. Gary Slutkin, is an epidemiologist who approaches violence as an infectious disease that should be treated like any other—with scientifically proven methods. Those include detection, intervention, and behavior modification, combined to alter a community's perspective of violence and stop the problem at its source.
Within violence-plagued neighborhoods, the organization's Violence Interrupters—often former violence perpetrators—detect and mediate potentially lethal conflicts. Outreach Workers, meanwhile, work with high-risk individuals to change the way they think about violence and help them improve their lives within the system. On a larger scale, Cure Violence shifts the discourse within whole communities and society at large, emphasizing a health approach to violence instead of punishment.