Goldin Institute Summer GATHERing: The Power of Solidarity

We invite you to join us for the 2023 Goldin Institute Annual Summer GATHERing on XX from YY to ZZ at ABCD place. This year we'll celebrate those on the front lines of building the trust and solidarity necessary to defuse situations when they arise. More and More.


Meet the 2020 Chicago Peace Fellows

https://vimeo.com/438696870

The Goldin Institute invites you to learn about each of our 2020 Chicago Peace Fellows representing 14 community areas across the city.  Founded in 2019 in collaboration with the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities, the Chicago Peace Fellows program is the only leadership development program that is built by and for grassroots community leaders on the South and West sides of Chicago.

Peace Fellows participate in GATHER, an online asset-based community engagement course, as well as in-person training, collaborative action projects, and networking experiences with civic leaders, academic researchers, and policy makers. The Chicago Peace Fellows reduce violence by building relationships, engaging youth, collaborative peace building projects over the summer and by creating new networks among residents, families, schools, and nonprofit organizations.

ABOUT GATHER

The Fellows are learning together through GATHER, which is both a mobile platform for shared learning and a curriculum for people who want to build on the talents of their neighbors and the assets of their communities to make real and lasting change. Gather Fellows learn and work together through an innovative curriculum that comes pre-loaded on a tablet device with all the connectivity, materials, videos, practices and tools necessary to provide a mobile classroom and toolkit for community leadership.

https://vimeo.com/279951209/a66418b8dc

The Chicago Peace Fellows project will connect and equip a select group of past grantees of the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities to reduce violence and promote peace. Chicago Peace Fellows will be the second all-Chicago cohort to utilize the GATHER platform, an online learning hub built by the Goldin Institute to empower grassroots leaders.

The participants have been selected from past grantees of the Chicago Fund. They will engage in a 14-week course of intensive shared learning as well as group projects, culminating in a graduation event in October, 2019. The curriculum has been designed in collaboration with the grantees themselves, based on their practical knowledge and hard earned wisdom, with input from a wide range of civic leaders. Fellows will reflect on their past summer work, identify successes and lessons learned, and improve their abilities by sharing strengths and learning new skills.

The Goldin Institute and the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities have aligned missions that value authentic community leadership. The Chicago Fund is uniquely effective at finding motivated problem-solvers and community-builders. By connecting Chicago leaders through GATHER, their efforts to nurture safer and more peaceful communities will be more effective, interconnected and lasting.

A special thanks to the Conant Family Foundation, JP Morgan Chase, the Polk Bros. Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies and the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities for making this program possible.

To follow along the learning journey with the Gather Fellows, please sign up for our newsletter and follow up on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

If you would like to apply for the next cohort of Gather Fellows, please visit apply.goldininstitute.org.


Goldin Institute grassroots social change

Peace Fellows Tour University of Chicago Crime Lab

On Friday, August 30, the Chicago Peace Fellows toured the University of Chicago Urban Labs to learn more about the work of the Crime Lab, hosted by Kimberly Smith, associate director of criminal justice initiatives.

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Kim talked about how the Crime Lab started with the idea to leverage the intellectual capital of the University of Chicago to address violence in Chicago. In 2007, the University was reeling from the shooting death on their campus of an international student during an attempted robbery. Their solution was to ask what the University’s faculty members were good at and how could they use their talents to serve their surrounding community.

[quote]The University of Chicago is the home of more Nobel Prize winners than any other institution in the world, and the school is a hub for research of many kinds, scientific to historical. Could they use those techniques to encourage research on the causes and solutions to violence in the communities that surround the university?[/quote]

They began to work with community organizations to add value by providing research and evaluation support. They identified one organization that was producing tremendous results and helped them grow their programming, and they are working with several other groups across the city that are tackling issues of violence in the city to identify effective strategies.

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Much of the meeting was spent fielding questions from the Chicago Peace Fellows about how the Crime Lab does its work. They asked about the Crime Lab’s work with the Chicago Police Department, particularly how the Crime Lab is working to support officers and their relationship to the community. Robert Biekman wanted to know about the Crime Lab’s analysis of the federal consent decree that is designed to change the policies and procedures of the Chicago Police Department.

Dr. Sokoni Karanja asked about accessing data on community policing programs, which began a conversation about data sharing and how the Crime Lab provides data to grassroots organizations to measure impact. Many of the Chicago Peace Fellows have been doing tremendous work in their respective communities for years and were open to utilizing the support of the University's researchers to document their efforts and learn more about what’s most effective.

The meeting was a great demonstration of how communities can work with institutions to solidify best practices and identify promising solutions to the myriad of issues that communities across Chicago face.


Goldin Institute grassroots social change

Peace Fellows visit 10 Point Coalition in Indianapolis


On Tuesday, July 23rd, Chicago Peace Fellow Robert Beikman and his organization, Alternatives to Incarceration Collaborative, took a group of youths involved in his restorative justice program to Indianapolis to learn about the 10 Point Coalition and the work they do to tackle the issue of violence in their city.

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The day started with a conversation with the Rev. Charles Harrison and Indianapolis Police Chief Bryan Roach, who talked about how the program started. The 10 Point Coalition started in Boston in 1992 as a response to violence in that city as a partnership between the police, clergy and community youth organizations to conduct outreach and connect with community members who are most at risk of being a victim or perpetrator of violence. The partnership encourages community leaders to work with police to prevent acts of violence from occurring by providing services such as mentorship, housing, and jobs.

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Robert Biekman and his Alternatives to Incarceration team came to learn about the lessons of their actions. The group toured the neighborhood to get a feel of what it looks like in Indianapolis and some of the challenges they face around poverty, gangs and substance abuse. On the tour, an Indianapolis police officer got out of his car to join the tour and talked about his experience working with the program. Since the program began, there has been a decrease in violence in some of their most difficult communities.

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[quote]They attribute the drop in violence to better relationships between the police and community. The tour really highlighted the severe challenges faced by the community and some of the similarities with Chicago neighborhoods such as Roseland.[/quote]

The young people that Robert brought from Chicago are a part of a program that provides an alternative to incarceration and teaches them how to be community leaders. All of the youth have been involved with the criminal justice system and the program partners with the courts to keep them out of jail. They attend training and do community service as an alternative to being incarcerated for low-level crimes, and the program helps them chart a new path.

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10 Point participants voiced their concerns with the police and community leaders in Indianapolis about the hopelessness they face in Chicago and how violence is so widespread. Many feel that because of issues of hostility, it is difficult to chart a new path. Robert and the Rev. Harrison worked hard to assuage these fears and reinforce the idea that changing their lifestyles is worth the peace and freedom it brings. Overall, everyone involved found it a valuable experience.

To learn more, check out the local news coverage from Indianapolis which features a video review of the meeting.


Goldin Institute grassroots social change

Peace Fellows Trained in Kingian Nonviolence


On Monday, July 8, the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago hosted a Kingian Nonviolence workshop for the Chicago Peace Fellows and grantees of the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities. The Institute for Nonviolence is a street outreach organization that specializes in connecting with individuals who are most at risk of being a victim or perpetrator of violence. They also provide support for families of victims of violence and help people returning from prison find resources such as jobs, housing or health related services. The Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities provide small grants of up to $10,000 to grassroots community leaders who are hosting activities in neighborhoods on the West and South sides that have high rates of violence. All of the Chicago Peace Fellows were recipients of these grants in 2018. 

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The Institute for Nonviolence Chicago invited the Chicago Peace Fellows and grantees of the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities for training led by Benny Lee on the steps and principles of nonviolence as taught by Martin Luther King Jr to his organizers in communities across the nation. Benny is a former leader of the Vice Lords, a notorious gang on the West Side, who spent decades in prison. Benny talked openly about his stint on death row after he and several others were charged with inciting a prison riot in the ‘70s. He shared about how nonviolence principles changed his life and helped him learn how to solve conflict and fight for justice in a different way.

 

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Through the training, Benny shared his vision for building the Beloved Community, an all-inclusive society built around universal acceptance, healing from trauma, and celebration of successes. He encouraged the participants of the workshop to join him and each other in building the Beloved Community. 

The Chicago Peace Fellows and other grantees asked questions and participated in conversation with Benny and each other. One Chicago Peace Fellow, Adi Lerner, who works at the Westside Justice Center as a program director, asked,

[quote]“How do we truly embrace nonviolence in violent circumstances?” -- Adi Lerner, Chicago Peace Fellow[/quote]

Adi stressed that often she finds many of the people she works with are victims of overt violence but also violent systems such as forced poverty, mass incarceration and systemic oppression. Benny shared his experience in fighting against these forces for returning citizens, people coming home from prison, and how he has made breakthroughs in returning their rights such as getting licenses that they were previously prohibited from getting by the state of Illinois. He said the principles are his grounding metrics for how he takes action to fight for peace.

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The Nonviolence Principles are as follows: 

  • Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.
  • Building the Beloved Community is the goal.
  • Attack the forces of evil, not persons doing evil.
  • Accept suffering without retaliation for the sake of the Just Cause.
  • Avoid inner-violence of the spirit as well as outwardly physical violence.
  • The universe is on the side of justice. 

Overall, the group really enjoyed the experience and connected with one another around the material. The Institute for Nonviolence hosts 3 day nonviolence workshops that are open to the public. Please visit their website to learn more about the organization, their upcoming events and trainings.


Goldin Institute grassroots social change

Peace Fellow Spotlight: Gloria Smith

What are some important updates in your current work?

The Black Star Project is a multifaceted initiative known for its actions with programs on education, culture, economic and workforce development, mentoring, tutoring and youth development, public policy and advocacy and violence prevention. Our programs encourage a holistic, intergenerational approach to community building.

Peace Fellows Gloria Smith (from left), Jeanette Coleman, coordinator Burrell Poe, Pamela Phoenix, Jacquelyn Moore and Robert Biekman pose for photo after meeting with Veterans for Peace.

Phillip Jackson, our founding director, passed away in November 2018. Phillip was a great inspiration to many and we have been challenged to determine how best to continue cultivating and sharing his wisdom with the world. While many of our supporters keep up with our work through the Black Star Project website and Facebook page, we also have a radio program on WVON on Saturdays at 6 p.m. and a periodic newsletter that is shared with a national and international audience.

Some of our recent projects include economic empowerment and non-profit management workshops, Saturday university academic programs, and Becoming Chicago’s Next CEO, a summer program for interns interested in learning investment skills. Most recently, we participated, along with our Young Black Men of Honor, in the Chicago Community Trust’s On the Table event by sending a letter to Mayor Lori Lightfoot sharing their thoughts on addressing violence in the community.

Peace Fellows Gloria Smith (left) and Jacquelyn Moore practice Appreciative Inquiry during a workshop at Breakthrough Ministries.

As Phillip's sister, I along with my staff and a host of organizations and supporters remain very much engaged in “the good work” that Phillip left for us to do and to share with as wide a community as possible.

How has GATHER informed the work that you do? Have you made any meaningful connections between GATHER and your work?

“Gathering” is at the heart of our work at The Black Star Project. We know this: What has always strengthened and encouraged Black and Brown people is our histories of struggle, our creativity, our humanity in the face of trauma, our connection to elders and ancestors, and the love and encouragement we must pass along to our young people.

Peace Fellow Gloria Smith shares the Asset Map she created with her neighbors of the Bronzeville community.

We believe that we need to be together. To spend time with each other – in small gatherings and large, sharing the wisdoms we’ve learned from our experiences. Our programs share the resources of history, spirit and culture that have provided strength and renewal to people struggling for the expression of their humanity in Chicago and elsewhere in the world. This is work we’ve done since our founding in 1996, work we remain committed to, and work that is very similar to the peacemaking efforts of GATHER and the Goldin Institute.


Goldin Institute grassroots social change

Advisors Meet to Discuss the Chicago Peace Fellows Progress

Advisors to the Goldin Institute’s Chicago Peace Fellows initiative came together over dinner April 30 to hear updates about the Fellows and discuss the implications of their work in a context of the city’s ongoing crisis of violence.

Over plates of pasta at a restaurant across the street from City Hall, Goldin Institute Executive Director Travis Rejman, Program Coordinator Burrell Poe and Special Advisor Gabe Gonzalez briefed the attendees on the Peace Fellows’ progress through the capacity-building curriculum the Goldin Institute created based on our 17 years of experience working with grassroots organizers around the world.

The Peace Fellows initiative was launched earlier this year with the support of the Conant Family Foundation to connect and equip 19 prior grantees from the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities who were provided with a stipend as well as an iPad pre-loaded with the GATHER learning software authored by the Goldin Institute.

John Zeigler, director of DePaul University’s Egan Office of Urban Education and Community Partnerships, participated in the Peace Fellows workshop dedicated to “asset mapping,” and came away impressed. Asset mapping - creating geographic representations of community-based resources - must be done methodically to be effective, he cautioned, but many of the Peace Fellows had long histories in their neighborhoods, which they used to inform their maps.

[quote]“Many people in the room were legends in their own right. What was rich in the conversation was that they could connect stories to their assets. What I heard was knitting together their stories so they became a map.” -- John Zeigler [/quote]

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Deborah Bennett, a senior program officer at the Polk Bros. Foundation, one of the philanthropies participating in the Fund for Safe and Peaceful communities and supporter of the Peace Fellows program, said interviews with prior grantees revealed that many felt isolated, even from other organizers who were in the same neighborhood. They were focused mainly on their day-to-day struggles and were rarely able to get an overview of their own communities, let alone the city as a whole.

Deborah shared, "What we learned was that they really appreciated the value of bringing people together so they could figure out what was going on in their communities.” Deborah was certain, therefore, that the Peace Fellows would be able to help each other in their work even as they met with people in key institutions and shaped their understanding of life in the neighborhoods.

[quote]“We’re lifting up the ideas of those most impacted by violence.” -- Deborah Bennett[/quote]

Mimi Frankel, a member of the Frankel Family Foundation’s Board of Directors and the Goldin Institute’s Board of Advisors, questioned the efficacy of traditional approaches to counteracting gangs and illegal drug trafficking, and suggested greater involvement from the corporate sector.

[quote]“Businesses are out there and they’re looking for a way to be involved." -- Mimi Frankel [/quote]

Teny Gross, executive director of the Institute for Non-Violence, said Chicago was behind other large cities such as New York or Los Angeles in developing strategies for reducing violence, but was optimistic that the key players were in place and major change would soon be realized.

The dinner was also attended by Leslie Ramyk, executive director of the Conant Family Foundation; Lisa Dush, a DePaul University professor who is conducting an academic evaluation of GATHER; Keith Lewis from the University of Illinois at Chicago; Leif Elsmo, executive director of community & external affairs at University of Chicago Medicine; Teresa Zeigler; Gia Biagi, director of Urbanism and Civic Impact at Studio Gang; and Goldin Institute Chief of Staff Oz Ozburn.


Goldin Institute grassroots social change

Illuminating Perspectives: Art and Social Justice

When artist and educator Cecil McDonald Jr. began working with children in the Chicago Public Schools some years ago, he heard something that disturbed him. The children were enjoying themselves in the playground and appeared to be carefree, but when Cecil interviewed them, he heard them “repeating the grand narratives of violence and pain,” a narrative that was created by adults and taught to them through the media they consumed.

Cecil McDonald, Jr. offers a guided tour to the Chicago Peace Fellows, including Dawn Hodges (left), Alex Levesque, Robin Cline, Adi Lerner, Ethan Michaeli (staff), Maria Velazquez and Jeanette Coleman.

He resolved to do something about it by creating images that find dignity and beauty in the everyday activities of African American families, and by empowering the youths to document their own lives through photography.

“I made that my charge,” McDonald said. “You ask them: ‘What image do you see? How do you see those images?’ And then you give them the camera so they can go out and tell their own stories.”

Jane Saks of Project& (left), Cecil McDonald, Jr. and Chicago Peace Fellows Coordinator Burrell Poe discuss the role of the arts in social change movements.

McDonald recently hosted the Chicago Peace Fellows at his exhibit of photographs entitled “In the Company of Black” at the Chicago Cultural Center. Containing large, posed images of African American subjects performing quotidian activities inside their homes – reading, sleeping, playing, getting ready for the day – the exhibit was created by McDonald over seven years to represent what he described as the “extraordinarily ordinary.”

[quote]“Artists are in the business of creating truth, creating magic. I depend on my ability to create to make the everyday seem extreme.” -- Cecil McDonald, Jr.[/quote]

For McDonald as for the other artists, the work had a common purpose with teachers, organizers and others working to empower communities. While artists are usually “the last ones brought in,” McDonald said artists focus people’s energy, reconstitute their self-image, and define their purpose.

Chicago Peace Fellow Robert Biekman (left) listens to Chicago artist Tonika Johnson explain how her Folded Map project brings different parts of the city together with fellow panelist Jane Saks.

McDonald was one of several artists who spoke to the Peace Fellows in an April 2nd workshop hosted by the Chicago Cultural Center entitled "Illuminating Perspectives: The Role of the Arts in Social Change." Tonika Lewis Johnson presented her Folded Map Project while artistic director Jane Saks talked about the intersections between art and social justice and the work of Project&, and Rahmaan Statik Barnes discussed his work as a street artist and muralist.

Tonika’s Folded Map Project utilizes Chicago’s long north-south streets to make visual connections between residents who live at corresponding addresses on the North and South sides of the city. She began the project as a photographic study but it proved very popular with the residents themselves, who enjoyed meeting their ‘opposite,’ and quickly gained widespread attention from mainstream media outlets so that Tonika added video and a new web site. The Folded Map Project is an investigation of urban segregation and its impacts on the people’s everyday lives.

Chicago Peace Fellows Velvian Boswell (left), Maria Velazquez, Robert Biekman, and Dawn Hodges review the photography exhibit In the Company of Black by Cecil McDonald, Jr.

The founding president of the Chicago-based Project&, Jane Saks has participated and led many different kinds of collaborations between artists and activists such as “Working in America,” a traveling exhibition and web archive inspired by Pulitzer Prize-winner Studs Terkel’s 1974 book “Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do,” a gathering of photos and stories of working folk in 17 states.

Jane enthusiastically cited her experiences to aver that artistic collaborations are uniquely situated to function as an ‘ecology’ where issues of equality and equity can be defined and discussed.

[quote]“In an ecology, things are not equal. They’re equitable. We’re not born with equality, but we can work for equity.” -- Jane Saks[/quote]

Turning to the Peace Fellows, Jane pointed out the similarities between their work as grassroots organizers and artists.

“As community activists, as social justice leaders, what you’re working to do is what people in the arts do,” Jane said. “Social justice workers and artists are both envisioning a future and creating things into existence.”

The Peace Fellows also heard from Rahmaan Statik, a public artist, designer, fine artist, illustrator and art teacher, who described the inspirations he received growing up on the South Side surrounded by urban art and public murals. A co-founder of a graphic arts and mural collective called R.K Design, Statik has produced over 400 murals and earned commissions for Coca Cola, Toyota, the village of Rosemont, and Red Bull, among other corporate clients.


Goldin Institute grassroots social change

Violence Recovery and Interruption at the Trauma Center


On Friday, March 22, 2019 the Goldin team and the Chicago Peace Fellows attended an in-person workshop hosted by the Violence Recovery Program at University of Chicago Medical Center. Executive Director of the Goldin Institute Travis Rejman began with some opening statements to keep in mind during the workshop: "In addition to the wisdom this team can share about violence recovery and prevention, their work provides an illuminating insight into what it takes to work on a wicked problem where you need to engage such a wide variety stakeholders, including victims of violence, doctors, administrators, families, community partners, law enforcement, case workers and spiritual care providers.”

[quote]"Social issues are adaptive challenges; there is no check list on how to solve them so you need a different mindset and different lens. This is a great place to launch our conversation.” -- Travis Rejman[/quote]

Bruce from the Violence Recovery Team shares how important it is to spend time with victims of violence to build trust in March 22, 2019 workshop.
The University of Chicago Medical Center started the Violence Recovery Program (VRP) on May 1, 2018, with the goal of treating not only primary trauma in victims of violence, but secondary trauma as well. In addition to treating serious injuries such as blunt trauma, gunshots, and stab wounds, the team also provides what they call “psychological first-aid,” which is compassionate guidance for family and friends of the victims.

The recovery team shared that people who are impacted by violence are more likely to be a victim or perpetrator of violence after they are released from the hospital and the team is to set up to disrupt that cycle. The Trauma Center will see 3,000 trauma causes this year, and almost 40% of those will be due to intentional violence.

Velvian Boswell (from left), Diane Latiker and Lisa Daniels discuss violence as an adaptive challenge in March 22, 2019 workshop.
The Peace Fellows were then led in a discussion by Senior Advisor Gabe Gonzalez, who asked them to analyze how the work of the VRP could provide insight into their own service to the community.

Together, the VRP team and the Peace Fellows discussed approaches to tackling adaptive challenges in their communities. Many agreed that proper resources were not often at the community’s disposal. Some of the Fellows as well as the VRP expressed a need for more staff and the need for self-care for their own teams.

Gabe Gonzalez (from left), Robert Biekman, Dawn Hodges, Jamila Trimuel and Pamela Pheonix share examples of community assets in March 22, 2019 workshop.
Conversely, the team was able to share some of the assets that do exist in their communities. Diane Latiker of Kids Off the Block mentioned the importance of schools in her neighborhood. Dr. Pamela Phoenix explained that the parents were a huge asset in her work. Jamila Trimuel praised the support of black women and young professionals.

Dawn Hodges (from left), Jamila Trimuel, Robin Cline, Pamela Pheonix, Jackie Moore, Jeanette Coleman, Pamela Butts, Gloria Smith, Lisa Daniels and Diane Latiker at the March 22, 2019 workshop.
The Peace Fellows are tasked with creating a project over the summer that will promote peace and encourage violence prevention at a time when violence is usually at its peak in Chicago. The support of a hospital-based violence intervention program at a major medical center in the city could be crucial to the impact of projects like these, and it could prepare the Violence Recovery Program to take further steps in bridging the gap to create bonds with the leaders of Chicago’s communities.

Many thanks to Leif, Mark, Bruce and Dre of Violence Recovery Program team for hosting us and for sharing their insight into this new model of violence recovery within the hospital system.


Goldin Institute grassroots social change

Meet the 2019 Chicago Peace Fellows

The Goldin Institute invites you to learn about each of our Chicago Peace Fellows representing 14 neighborhoods across the city as they join together and establish a community of practice determined to promote peace across the city!

ABOUT GATHER

The Fellows are learning together through GATHER, which is both a mobile platform for shared learning and a curriculum for people who want to build on the talents of their neighbors and the assets of their communities to make real and lasting change. Gather Fellows learn and work together through an innovative curriculum that comes pre-loaded on a tablet device with all the connectivity, materials, videos, practices and tools necessary to provide a mobile classroom and toolkit for community leadership.

https://vimeo.com/279951209

 

The Chicago Peace Fellows project will connect and equip a select group of past grantees of the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities to reduce violence and promote peace. Chicago Peace Fellows will be the first all-Chicago cohort to utilize the GATHER platform, an online learning hub built by the Goldin Institute to empower grassroots leaders.

The participants have been selected from past grantees of the Chicago Fund. They will engage in a 14-week course of intensive shared learning as well
as group projects, culminating in a graduation event in October, 2019. The curriculum has been designed in collaboration with the grantees themselves, based on their practical knowledge and hard earned wisdom, with input from a wide range of civic leaders. Fellows will reflect on their past summer work, identify successes and lessons learned, and improve their abilities by sharing strengths and learning new skills.

The Goldin Institute and the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities have aligned missions that value authentic community leadership. The Chicago Fund is uniquely effective at finding motivated problem-solvers and community-builders. By connecting Chicago leaders through GATHER, their efforts to nurture safer and more peaceful communities will be more effective, interconnected and lasting.

To follow along the learning journey with the Gather Fellows, please sign up for our newsletter and follow up on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

If you would like to apply for the next cohort of Gather Fellows, please visit apply.goldininstitute.org.

A special thanks to the Conant Family Foundation, JP Morgan Chase, the Polk Bros. Foundation, and the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities for making this program possible.