Metropolitan Peace Initiatives supports communities in helping people heal from trauma
Metropolitan Peace Initiatives (MPI) has grown nearly 50% in the last year in support of our 13 Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P) partners, helping each build capacity and increase comprehensive service delivery in the 27 communities they serve. Behavioral Health Services, Metropolitan Peace Academy training, the CP4P Justice Corps (legal services provided by Metropolitan’s Legal Aid Society), Workforce Development, and Program Operations have all experienced exponential growth.
MPI launched a Policy and Advocacy arm to focus on civic power and representation through legislative/advocacy engagement on behalf of and in collaboration with our CP4P coalition member organizations.
MPI Policy leads frontline community violence intervention (CVI) advocacy engagement at all stages of the public policy process to address, repair, restore, sustain, enhance and defend the systemic health of CP4P-designated communities.
In March 2023, MPI Policy and Advocacy, together with the Illinois Peace Project (IPP), held a unique and inaugural Public Safety Mayoral Forum in the run-up to the Chicago Mayoral election. The event had an overflow crowd of faith-based leaders, legislators, city stakeholders and members of the CVI community.
MPI developed a citywide Crisis Prevention & Response Unit (CPRU) to consist of carefully selected, credible men and women recruited from communities across Chicago that are most impacted by gun violence. These communities overlap with those that are home to many youths and adults involved in crisis.
MPI created a Communications Department to craft and disseminate consistent coherent messaging about its mission, goals, services, partnerships and collaboration. This ensures external and internal stakeholders receive timely, accurate and relevant information. The department will include strategy, advocacy support, public relations, media relations and social media.
The Metropolitan Peace Academy (MPA) secured building space that will provide a centralized permanent home for outreach worker professionalization, case manager and victims’ services education, personal development and recreation. Groundbreaking has taken place, and the new space will feature training classrooms, administrative offices, a gym, yoga space, café, lounge area, and meditation space. This facility will equip MPA to train more outreach workers and case managers than in previous temporary locations.
In FY2023, MPA graduated 87 outreach professionals, 39 case managers and 57 victims’ services responders. MPA has successfully matriculated 335 outreach workers and 88 case managers since its inception. Also in FY2023, Chief of Training, Vanessa Perry DeReef, Ph.D., received an Appreciation Award, and Field Manager Jowaine Washington was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Southland RISE, an offshoot of Senator Richard Durbin’s HEAL program, is a collaboration between MPI and CP4P, UChicago Medicine, and Advocate Christ Medical Center, working to strengthen the violence recovery ecosystem on Chicago’s South Side and in its south suburbs. Since the initiative was founded, a group of leadership and designated team members from the two hospitals, along with MPI and CP4P, have been working to strengthen collaboration between hospitals and street outreach organizations, with the goal of improving treatment and supporting crime survivors and their families.
As part of this effort, and with grant funding from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA), a training curriculum was developed and implemented in 2023 by MPI/CP4P and Southland RISE, which brings together the perspectives and knowledge of both street outreach and hospital frontline staff.
MPI and CP4P partnered with City Colleges of Chicago (Daley and Wright) to provide workforce development, training and certifications in welding and National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) CNC programming, welding and forklift operation. Twenty-five students graduated with certifications in FY2023, and 30 participants are currently enrolled in the same programs.