Community / Marketing & Communication

Adler University Staff, Students Start Partnership to ‘Restore Youth’ in Back of the Yards

Carrie Frillman is Adler University’s associate director of media relations and social media. Contact her via email at cfrillman@adler.edu.

Adler University is teaming up with a prominent Chicago ministry to spur healing, renewal and decreased recidivism for youth in a notoriously violent South Side neighborhood.

The “Restoring Youth in Back of the Yards” initiative seeks to help rebuild the lives of individuals, families and community members through a multifaceted, integrated set of services. Representatives from Adler University and Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation (PMBR) began embedding in the neighborhood in 2016, but a concerted three-year restorative plan recently earned additional support in the form of a $50,000 grant from The Allstate Insurance Company.

Back of the Yards comprises an estimated 20,000 at-risk children and young adults. The current Restoring Youth initiative is expected to poise 185 of them for future success through a highly personal approach tailored to individuals and the community, as a whole.

“Mental health services have long been designed to meet the needs of majority communities,” Maryah Qureshi said. Qureshi is the Adler Community Health Services staff clinician who is coordinating the initiative. She emphasized that assessing and when necessary, amending the program’s approach, is just as crucial as its implementation.

“Through our partnership with PBMR, (our clinicians) are stepping back to make sure we’re not jamming a square peg in a round hole,” she said. “We are engaging PBMR youth and families in therapeutic conversations to destigmatize mental health services and working collaboratively with local members to reimagine what the delivery of effective, culturally sensitive therapy looks like in communities of color.”

The Back of the Yards neighborhood was selected due to its crime rate and proportion of juvenile offenders. In a one-year period from 2013 to 2014, the community area comprised 4.1 percent of the city’s population, yet reported 10.6 percent of its violent crime. The Restoring Youth mission includes decreasing the current 60-plus percent rate of recidivism those returning to incarceration within three years of release among adolescents and young adults.

Adler University and PBMR participants will be tapping liaisons at health care facilities, probation programs, schools, faith-based organizations, as well as social service and government agencies to gain referrals for Restoring Youth. Young adults and their families then strive for stability with help from the team of supervising therapists, student-clinicians, community partners, and others.

The grant-funded portion of the program kicked off Feb. 1 and will continue through Jan. 31, 2020.