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May 2022 updates from Chicago Peacebuilding

WILD Chicago youth organizing institute 2022
Chicago youth organizing institute July 2022 Photo: / AFSC

We hope that this email finds you in the best of health and spirits possible, despite the difficult times we're navigating.  We've been devastated by the overtly white supremacist massacre in Buffalo, and the ten Black people whose lives were stolen by 18 year old Payton Gendron. 

And here in Chicago, we're upset that elected officials are once again blaming Black youth for violence and responding with increased policing, a park ban, and stricter curfews, instead of addressing root causes like rampant housing insecurity, lack of mental healthcare and living wage jobs, and entrenched anti-Blackness.  

Summer often brings some of the most difficult times for young Black and Brown people navigating Chicago's realities.  We feel the urgency of our work to divest from policing, invest in young people and anti-racist community organizing, and win transformative change for communities that have experienced divestment for far too long.

Earlier this month, we hired four new youth interns to help recruit and plan for our summer youth organizing institute, so we're getting this newsletter out later than we'd like.  That said, read on for several ways you can plug in with us in the coming days and weeks.  

This month's newsletter features a chance for you to meet the WILD interns, info about our abolitionist toolkit release event this Wednesday, and a request to join us in Springfield in June for the #FreeBernina clemency hearing.  You'll also get to hear from Alicia, our youth organizing fellow, about her recent trip to California for a convening with the Final Five campaign to end youth incarceration!

Don't forget you can get more frequent updates by following our Instagram account! 

AFSC Chicago Peacebuilding Coordinator

Summer Youth Organizing Institute

Thanks to a generous gift & partnership from Wellington UCC, an active and supportive community that’s thrown down for social justice for decades, we’re going to pilot ‘WILD!’ - a month-long, paid youth organizing institute for twenty young people, ages 15-19!  

WILD! Details:

The Wellington Institute for Leadership Development - aka WILD! - Program will run through July 5th - July 29th - and we will meet every Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday from 11 am to 4 pm at 'Grace Place,' in the South Loop. Participants will receive an unlimited 30 day CTA Pass to cover transportation expenses as well as a $1,000 stipend for completion of the program.  There will be an orientation session for all accepted participants in June.  Read more about the program specifics here!

The original deadline to apply was today, Monday May 23, but we'll continue reviewing any candidates who get their applications in by Wednesday May 23 at 9 AM.

Meet the WILD Team!

To coordinate the WILD youth organizing institute month-long experience, we’ve hired four creative, experienced and passionate interns who’ve already gotten to work planning the curriculum and helping us recruit.  Learn more about the interns here!

Abolitionist Toolkits - Release Party!

Join us this Wednesday May 25 to celebrate the release of TWO abolitionist toolkits for educators, youth workers, young folks & all interested in abolition/education organizing!

Lessons in Liberation” by AK Press & Critical Resistance was published in September 2021, and this will be the Chicago live launch of the toolkit, featuring contributors Jen Johnson, Dave Stovall and sexual health educators from the Chicago Women's Health Center.

Coins, Cops, and Communities” by AFSC Chicago Peacebuilding was first published in 2016, with activities on how to talk about divesting from policing with young people. This month, we’ll release an updated 2022 version of the toolkit, complete with new budget numbers, activities, and active campaigns that youth can learn from! *Stay tuned for the new toolkit link, which will go live on Wednesday!*

WHEN: Wednesday May 25
5:30 PM Doors open, snacks available
6:00 PM Event & Livestream Begin
7:30 PM That’s a Wrap!

WHERE: Chicago Freedom School - 719 S. State St 4th Floor (RSVP required)
VIRTUAL: Live-stream link Available upon RSVP

We hope to see on Wednesday May 25th, virtually or in person. If you have not yet RSVP'd, we are *at capacity* for in person attendance.  However we encourage you to RSVP below to receive the link to join us virtually!

Light dinner available for those who arrive early.

This event is co-sponsored by Education for Liberation Network, Critical Resistance, AFSC Chicago Peacebuilding, Teachers for Social Justice, Chicago Women’s Health Center, Alternatives, and Chicago United for Equity. More to come!

-Masks are required for all who attend. If you don’t have one, we’ll give you one!
-CFS is on the 4th floor. An elevator is available for use, with access via the rear entrance to the building.


#FreeBernina Clemency Hearing

You're invited to join the Bernina Mata Freedom Team on Wednesday June 15 for her rescheduled clemency hearing in Springfield, IL.  Your presence at Bernina’s clemency hearing will make a big difference in making her case that she should be released, and it helps to to show the PRB that Bernina has people in the world willing to show up and support her.

Carpools will be arranged in advance!  We are asking supporters to leave Chicago by 5:45 AM. Let us know here whether you're able to drive (we can reimburse for gas) or need a ride!

Interested in joining us in Springfield, but need more info? Reach out by replying directly to! Or fill out the form below with your questions and we'll get in touch!  


Youth Organizing Updates

AnnMarie and Alicia Brown pose for a photo in front of a mural in Oakland, California. May 2022.

Alicia went to California!

Final 5 Campaign is a campaign that is led by impacted youth, with the mission of closing the remaining youth prisons in Illinois. For about 2 years we have been supported by Youth First Initiative. Some of the work Youth First does is prioritizing directly impacted leadership. Because of that, Youth First has helped to create and launch campaigns in 15 jurisdictions all across the country. All these states are working towards ending youth incarceration. For the first time ever, this campaign is networking together active state campaigns across dozens of groups to amplify work and ensure we are hearing tactics together. We have monthly calls for everyone to check in and share updates and to figure out how we can support each other.

With that being said, this initiative is coming to an end. Youth First wanted all of us to come together to meet in person and be in community. I was invited, along with four other folks as a part of the Final 5 campaign, to come to California for this convening put on by Youth First on May 3rd for the whole week! This convening was full of workshops, team building activities, and tours of different organizations in Cali. Being a fellow at AFSC for a couple months now, one of my projects is focus groups in youth prisons. I see how the prisons are harmful, not healing or rehabilitation for any youth, and how prisons should never exist! This trip I was able to hear from people all across the country sharing different tactics on how they support the healing for incarcerated young people, tactics on how to approach the governor to end youth incarceration, and was able to network between lots of organizations and meet great people with my same mission!

I have made a poem to capture most parts of my trip…