Author: chicagobeyond

Chicago Beyond Unveils Commitment to Action to Catalyze $5M Investment in Black Maternal Health Fellows Program at Clinton Global Initiative 2023 Meeting

Today, Chicago Beyond, a philanthropic organization that works to ensure all young people and community members are free to live full lives, unveiled it will invest $2M into a new Black Maternal Health Fellows program. This groundbreaking initiative is poised to empower Black maternal health leaders and spearhead transformative change in maternal healthcare across America. Chicago Beyond’s fellowship was developed with support from the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and was announced at the CGI 2023 Meeting.

Chicago Beyond is actively seeking partners to join the mission to catalyze a total of $5M in funding for Black maternal health leaders over the course of four years. By working together with values-aligned philanthropic organizations and change makers, a substantial impact can be made to improve the well-being of Black mothers and their children.

In alignment with Chicago Beyond’s commitment to fostering systemic change in Black maternal health, the organization recognizes the importance of strategic partnerships to drive impactful outcomes. Chicago Beyond aims to collaborate closely with funders, birth equity organizations, and institutional health systems to identify, select, and provide substantial support to a cohort of Black maternal health leaders across the United States. This partnership will encompass significant funding, capacity-building resources, and meaningful engagement with health system leaders.

“The hard truth we cannot ignore is that Black women are three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women, despite various socioeconomic factors and advances in healthcare,” said Liz Dozier, Founder and CEO of Chicago Beyond. “The launch of the Black Maternal Health Fellows program represents a pivotal moment in our mission to dismantle systemic barriers and improve birth equity. This fellowship underscores Chicago Beyond’s unwavering commitment to centering voices closest to the work, fostering innovation, and creating lasting improvements that fundamentally change birth outcomes for Black women.”

This fellowship builds upon Chicago Beyond’s expertise in culturally-concordant health investments, national movement work, and philanthropic partnerships. The Black Maternal Health Fellows will be an expansion of Chicago Beyond’s active investment in Black

maternal health solutions and engagement. Chicago Beyond’s current Leader in Residence, Jeanine Valrie Logan, has built her career in birth justice, including her ongoing work to open the Chicago South Side Birth Center. Applying lessons learned over the past several years and leveraging growing health relationships across the country, Chicago Beyond will resource and uplift the work of Black maternal health leaders in America. 

Centro Sanar and Chicago Beyond Announce New Partnership to Expand Mental Health Services on the Southwest Side – Golden Institute

In August of 2023, Chicago Beyond, a philanthropic organization that invests in organizations which work to ensure young people and community members are free to live full lives, announced a $1.6 million investment in Centro Sanar. Centro Sanar, co-founded by 2022 Chicago Peace Fellow, Edwin Martinez, provides free mental health services to the southwest communities of Gage Park, Brighton Park, South Lawndale “Little Village,” and Back of the Yards. This funding will help support Centro Sanar’s mission of addressing nationwide mental health service gaps in Latinx communities through a replicable model that acts as an alternative to the current mental health industry. 

Read more via the Golden Institute here.

New Multiyear Investment with Centro Sanar

Chicago Beyond, a philanthropic organization that works to ensure all young people and community members are free to live full lives, today announced a $1.6 million multiyear investment in Centro Sanar, a non-profit treatment center that provides bilingual and bicultural mental health services for Latinx communities on the Southwest Side of Chicago. This funding commitment supports a replicable model that addresses critical, nationwide mental health service gaps for Latinx communities as an alternative to the current mental health industry. 

Centro Sanar was co-founded by Edwin Martinez, Lindsey Bailey, Tatiana Rohner, and Kira Harris Kogan in 2022 to address the impact of trauma and violence on families impacted by systemic oppression and to transform that system. Centro Sanar provides a wide range of services, including therapy, counseling, case management, support groups, and educational resources. Centro Sanar helps people overcome barriers to seeking mental health care by engaging with the community to reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health care and utilizing a co-location model that increases accessibility to services. 

“Centro Sanar has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to the mental health needs of Southwest Chicago’s Latinx community, and we are honored to elevate their important work,” said Founder and CEO of Chicago Beyond, Liz Dozier. “A traditional, one-size-fits-all approach to health does not work, particularly for members with their own unique experiences, and it’s time for a change. We look forward to our ongoing partnership with Centro Sanar and to supporting their work to bring transformative solutions that will spill over and be replicated nationally.” 

Mental health needs in the United States, particularly within Latinx communities, have been exacerbated since the beginning of the pandemic. Rather than solely focusing on the worsening mental health of individuals, it is important to address the underlying issue of the lack of culturally concordant, bilingual, and accessible mental healthcare options. This has created significant barriers for Latinx individuals in seeking appropriate support and treatment.  

Access to culturally relevant mental health services on the Southwest Side of Chicago is severely limited. A 2018 assessment revealed barriers such as cost, lack of insurance coverage, and distance to services as preventing residents from accessing the support they need. The assessment also highlighted the scarcity of culturally and linguistically appropriate services for Spanish-speaking Latinx immigrant communities in the area. 

Centro Sanar and Chicago Beyond view violence and trauma in Chicago as a systemic problem that disproportionately impacts underserved, under-resourced, and underrepresented communities of color. In light of this pressing need, Centro Sanar is committed to closing the disparity gap and ensuring equitable access to culturally sensitive, community-centered care. 

“We are deeply grateful for the generous investment, trust, and two-way-street partnership with Chicago Beyond,” said Co-Founder and Executive Director of Centro Sanar, Edwin Martinez. “Our organization has seen first-hand the critical gap in access to a variety of mental healthcare services, as well as the success stories when individuals and families receive the care they need. This support will help us reach new heights, increase capacity, and significantly strengthen our ability to make mental health services more accessible to Chicago’s Latinx community.” 

Through their community-centered approach, Centro Sanar and Chicago Beyond aim to reduce stigma, break down cultural barriers, and strengthen psychology, healing, and therapy services that will positively impact the overall well-being of the Latinx community and the city of Chicago as a whole. 

Chicago Beyond Partners with Jails in Chicago and San Francisco in First-of-its-Kind Coalition to Address Physical and Emotional Isolation

Chicago Beyond's Managing Director of Justice Initiatives, Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia, and Justice Initiatives Project Lead, Advait Reddy, discuss holistic safety with Chicago Beyond National Advisory Council Members Thomas Schoolcraft and Carl Williams while on-site at Cook County Jail.

Chicago Beyond today announced the inaugural Holistic Safety Action Alliance (HSAA), a first-of-its-kind, multi-state coalition that will develop strategies to reduce physical and emotional isolation for people working and confined within correctional walls. The HSAA brings together two reform leaders – the Cook County and San Francisco sheriffs’ offices – with national justice advocates to create programs that improve the wellness of staff and people incarcerated, build on holistic safety policies, and inspire other institutions toward reform.

Both institutions are forming new Internal Advisory Councils (IAC) of frontline staff and people detained to inform policy changes. The program also establishes a National Advisory Council (NAC) – composed of former frontline staff and people formerly incarcerated – to provide expert counsel to participating institutions.

“I have seen firsthand how both frontline staff and people incarcerated suffer multiple types of trauma, yet are rarely engaged in finding solutions,” said Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia, Managing Director of Justice Initiatives at Chicago Beyond and former warden of Cook County jail. “We are proud to work with Cook and San Francisco County jail leaders because of their demonstrated commitment to wellness for all people impacted by incarceration. Holistic safety is only achieved when the people closest to the problem – people incarcerated, staff, survivors of crime, and justice advocates – are genuinely empowered as part of the solution.”

By their very nature, jails are isolating places, for both people incarcerated and staff. Isolation takes many forms including: physical, in-cell time for people incarcerated; interpersonal isolation between jail staff and those incarcerated due to the prevalent us vs. them culture; and emotional isolation for both people incarcerated and frontline staff – all of which were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart and San Francisco Sheriff Paul Miyamoto have prioritized mitigating the inherent negative impact of incarceration through significant investments in staff wellness programs and expanding family engagement opportunities for people incarcerated, among other advancements. Initiatives that have garnered national attention include Cook County implementing trauma-informed, contact visitation and San Francisco County making all jail phone calls free. Both institutions will design and implement new individualized policies, practices, and procedures and pilot changes before the end of the year, showcasing their ongoing leadership and commitment to creating safer environments for all – and serving as a model for correctional systems across the nation.

“The Holistic Safety Action Alliance wants to bring about meaningful change within corrections by using a participatory approach to systems change,” said National Advisory Council member Emile Deweaver. “As part of the National Advisory Council, we develop relationships with administrations to help them shape policies and practices that instill safety and healing. We hope to set an example of how justice advocates – including people incarcerated and frontline staff – can collaborate in the future to drive better outcomes.”

“Chicago Beyond will act as the connective tissue for the HSAA to build collective knowledge, provide healing resources, and support administrators as they explore making reforms to decrease physical and emotional isolation,” said Liz Dozier, Founder and CEO of Chicago Beyond.

“Soon after taking Office, it was evident to me that the Cook County Jail was essentially serving as a de facto mental health hospital and that improving mental health treatment would be one of our biggest challenges. I also long ago recognized the psychological harms of solitary confinement and ended the incredibly counterproductive and harmful practice,” said Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart. “I have also ensured we’ve helped people incarcerated remain connected with their families and loved ones through multiple avenues. By joining the Holistic Safety Action Alliance, I look forward to building on these incredibly important efforts and sharing these advances with other correctional settings across the country.”

“The San Francisco Sheriff’s Office believes being separated from society should not mean being isolated from society,” said San Francisco County Sheriff Paul Miyamoto. “Joining the Holistic Safety Action Alliance will further our commitment to open communication, inclusivity, and safety for our staff and those in our custody. By working closely with the people most impacted, we will build on our past successes like renovating space for children visiting their incarcerated parents and building the first charter high school inside of a U.S. jail.”

The work of the HSAA is guided by a vision for holistic safety published by Chicago Beyond, called Do I Have the Right to Feel Safe? The publication identifies five core tenets of holistic safety and suggests strategies related to bring each tenet to life. This work was the result of a collaboration between correctional leaders, national criminal justice experts, people formerly incarcerated, and community leaders – including individuals who now serve on the National Advisory Council for HSAA, such as Vivian Nixon of the Racial Justice and Abolition Democracy (RJAD) Project at The Square One Project, Andy Potter of One Voice United, and Ronald Simpson-Bey of JustLeadershipUSA. 

The Relationship Between Trauma and Incarceration – Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia on Hey I’m Listening podcast with Dr. Joan

Our Managing Director of Justice Initiatives, Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia, spoke to Dr. Joan about how the victims, perpetrators of crime, and law enforcers often share the same physical environment and this creates a partner of recurring traumas when they go into society. The spoke about how a trauma-informed justice system can  be designed that allows families who are justice-involved heal holistically.

Filling the Foster Care Gap with Tech – TasselTurn SXSW EDU 2023

On March 7, 2023 Shruti Jayaraman, Chicago Beyond’s Chief Investment Officer, joined Shanté Elliot, founder of TasselTurn, and Marvell Joiner, Impact Fellow of TasselTurn, for a session that explored how technology can fill the gap to remain a constant network of support, led by an individual with lived experience in the foster care system.

In 2018, 1/3 of all children entering foster care were young people of color, with 23% identifying as Black – almost twice the percentage of Black children in the total US population. Today, there are more than 400k children in foster care nationwide. This disruption in a student’s life creates insurmountable barriers to success. 

Click here to hear the full replay of the conversation.