By Zeki Salah, Mutual Aid Collaborative Facilitator

Goldin Institute Peace Fellow, Annette Kelly, is helping host a series of workshops on Violence Prevention through her work with the Chicagoland Vaccine Partnership (CVP). Annette is the founder of FOUS Youth Development Services and was connected to the CVP through a funder of her organization. The CVP work focuses on sharing quality information about COVID vaccination in the communities hardest hit by COVID by mobilizing community leaders, educating community members and elevating multi-sector collaborations.

From left: Kimberley Smith, Jesus Salazar, Annette Kelly and Vaughn Bryant

The CVP launched a learning community platform called the Learning Community in June 2021 that offered a unique virtual space for over 600 contact tracers, resource navigators, and concerned community members. In this space, community members could support each other in doing outreach about the COVID-19 vaccines and having open dialogue about health inequities and community organizing more broadly. This work was expanded by the CVP with the founding of the Learning Community Fellows, 11 members of the Learning Community that were hired to expand the outreach of the Learning Community and assist in curriculum development. Annette was selected as a Learning Community Fellow in October of 2021.

Chicagoland Vaccine Partnership at work. Photo credit: Chicago Vaccine Partnership

Prior to becoming a Learning Community Fellow, Annette had 15 years of experience running school based mentoring and violence prevention programs in the West Pullman community through her work with FOUS Youth Development Services. Through her work with the CVP, Annette is expanding her organization’s community impact by addressing the public health concerns regarding both COVID-19 and violence and their disproportionate effects on communities of color.

The goal of CVP’s Violence Prevention series is to invite the CVP Learning Community participants to see gun violence through the public health lens. The series aims to protect and improve the health of people and their communities and shows how community partnerships can address these issues. Two events have already been held, focusing on multi-sector collaborations and crime reporting and data. In the first event, Vaughn Bryant and Jesus Salazar of Metropolitan Family Services shared a network of community organizations that practice trauma-informed care and restorative justice practices. In the second event, Kimberley Smith of the University of Chicago Crime Lab showed how data about gun violence could be used to redirect resources to target populations most affected by that violence. Both events drew strong responses from the participants and provided a space for community dialogue and opportunities for collaboration.

The CVP’s Violence Prevention series will include two more workshops on violence intervention strategies and the impact of block clubs. The first of these events, Giving Hope: Innovative Violence Intervention Strategies, will occur on May 4th. It will aim to address the collective trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic by linking communities to trauma-informed mental health resources. The second event, Word on the Block: A Conversation About the Impact of Block Clubs, will be held on May 11th. This event will bring in people working with local Chicagoland Block Clubs to learn from them and provide space for community dialogue. Both events will continue the Violence Prevention series’ theme of illuminating how both violence and the COVID-19 pandemic affect public health on a broad and overarching level, while providing solutions that are community based and hyper-local.