Chicago’s gun violence crisis requires all of us to make community safety a priority. Last year, following a decade of progress in reducing violence, Chicago suffered 4,368 shootings and 764 homicides, a level of violence unheard of since the 1990s. The trend continues in 2017. It must stop, and all of us have a role to play.
There is so much to do, but it is heartening that so many are stepping up to meet the challenge. Families, community and religious leaders, church groups, local organizations and others are working to make blocks and neighborhoods safer throughout the city. Organizations are reaching out to individuals at risk of violence with jobs and services. Reforms are underway at the Police Department. Adding to these urgent responses is the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities, a coalition of more than 30 Chicago funders and foundations committed to aligning their funding to support proven and promising approaches to reducing violence.
Starting in 2016, informed by longstanding work by many organizations — large and small — to address root causes of gun violence, several foundations (Polk Bros. Foundation among them) supported the operations of the Police Accountability Task Force and made direct investments in more than 120 neighborhood organizations in communities most affected by violence. As the Partnership has grown, members have invested in additional strategies.
Our hope is that by coming together to support work across Chicago, especially in communities at greatest risk, we will help strengthen programs and lay the foundation for a meaningful reduction in gun violence over the next two to three years. Members of the Partnership are working together to coordinate their individual investments in four key strategies:
To date, members have committed more than $30 million to support and coordinate work on these strategies. Along with commitments from many other groups, and ongoing investments from city, county, state and federal government agencies, the greater Chicago community is responding to the crisis of gun violence, and we can all help. Still, the magnitude and urgency of the challenge demand much more.