Giving Compass' Take:

• The Summer for Change program is a six-week anti-violence pilot project made for students attending alternative schools in Chicago.

• How can donors help these types of programs stay sustainable for students who need them most?

• Read about one Chicago principal's pledge for his school. 


With huge aspirations to safeguard young people from violence-prone streets, the Summer for Change program counted success in even small, incremental shifts.

For Kayla, the program offered a respite from the stress of her life in West Englewood, and a chance to learn communication and other life skills.

She was one of 430 young people who last week completed Summer for Change, the inaugural run of an intensive, six-week pilot program geared toward young people at risk of experiencing violence and trauma. Kayla attended group therapy, learned personal skills, and took field trips all over the city.

Like her classmates, she came from an alternative school that served students who either expelled or otherwise left traditional schools to seek an alternate path to graduation.

The program, which held a graduation at Chicago State University, targeted alternative school students because in the four years through 2016-17, one-quarter of the 425 Chicago Public Schools students who died had been attending those schools. While only 2% of district enrollment, alternative school students are disproportionately affected by violence in the city, according to a Chicago Reporter investigation.

Summer for Change offered participants a weekly stipend of $200 — Kayla referred to it has her job for the summer — to attend workshops on planning for the future, individual and group therapy and field trips to arcades and other amusements around the city. The program cost $1.4 million.

The program sought to engage young people and surround them with adults who made them feel welcome and valued, part of a broader effort to stitch together a social safety net for young people in Chicago that the new mayor has promised through efforts like those of Sybil Madison, the city’s new deputy mayor for education and human services.

Read the full article about anti-violence program by Yana Kunichoff at Chalkbeat.