Community / Our Partners

Guest Commentary: Committing to Investment in Youth, Safety, Justice & Healthy Communities

Patrick Sheahan_280x280Patrick Sheahan is a Chicago civic and business leader, and President of the Board of Directors of the Woods Fund Chicago. On June 4, he and Woods Fund Chicago joined the Adler School Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice and Chicago’s Albany Park Neighborhood Council to announce “REAL Justice.” More than 100 leaders and representatives of community organizations, foundations, government and justice agencies, not-for-profit organizations, businesses, and educational and civic institutions gathered for the announcement. The two-year initiative will support development of a regional coalition advancing policies and resources that expand and institutionalize restorative justice practices throughout Chicago.

Last year, Woods Fund made the important decision to make a commitment to restorative justice—a philosophy that moves our systems away from incarceration and expulsions and towards youth empowerment and repair—and to raise up and expand the use restorative justice practices in this regard.

Since then, we have increased our knowledge in restorative justice, engaged in a planning process with key organizations, and approved a two year $500,000 grant—one of the largest in our history—to support our vision of a metropolitan Chicago where communities, schools, governments, youth and families work together to invest in youth development, reduce incarceration costs, and promote public safety, human rights, and stronger communities.

Woods Fund Chicago’s grant-making seeks to help create a society where people of all racial and ethnic groups across all levels of social and economic status are empowered and have a voice to influence policies that impact their lives and where all communities are free of poverty and racism.

We believe that restorative justice reflects this vision.

We believe that our current systems steal away the future of too many young people—predominantly young men of color.  We hope that through this initiative, REAL Justice, that we can reverse this trend.

For more information about REAL Justice, contact the Woods Fund, the Albany Park Neighborhood Council, or the Adler School Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice.