Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Addressing Intentional Violence and its Root Causes

by Kate Dohner, Senior Writer, University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences Development
Image courtesy of University of Chicago Medicine - Adult Trauma Center

Violence in Chicago has become a national headline: “More Than 100 People Were Shot in Chicago Over the Fourth of July Weekend” (Time), “3-year-old boy among 7 wounded in Englewood shooting” (Chicago Sun Times).

The University of Chicago Medicine seeks to change this story. With one-third of the City’s homicides and violent crimes occurring within five miles of its campus, UChicago Medicine has the opportunity to not only deliver much-needed care to survivors of intentional violence but to become a proving ground for evidence-based interventions that reduce the number of patients who experience repeat violence.

Since opening in May 2018, UChicago Medicine’s Adult Level 1 Trauma Center has had more than 700 patient encounters, an average of 10 patients per day. Of those, 40 percent were directly related to community violence.

Recognizing that the epidemic of intentional violence calls for more than expert medical care, UChicago Medicine created the Violence Recovery Program, which provides intervention and ongoing, assertive case management to patients. Developed in concert with community leaders, more than 30 community organizations, and national experts, the program offers a holistic recovery for not just the patient, but for everyone affected by a trauma.

Philanthropic partners, like the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, are helping make this work possible. We envision a program that builds on current knowledge and resources; develops and tests new models of intervention and prevention; and provides infrastructure for program evaluation and research on many fronts. UChicago Medicine seeks to develop solutions that can benefit the City of Chicago and serve as a model for communities nationwide.

Image courtesy of University of Chicago Medicine - Adult Trauma Center

Universal Preschool Rolling Out in Chicago

by Cornelia Grumman, Director, Education Program

Over the last 15 years, Chicago has made gradual steps toward making sure all children in the city receive half quality early childhood experiences. Half-day kindergarten gradually was expanded to full-day kindergarten. Then half-day PreK programs were incorporated into schools, and many of those were expanded to full-day, responding to the needs of working parents.

This summer, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced he would make full-day preschool in the city universal to all 4-year-olds, regardless of family income. The phase-in would be gradual, so that by 2021, any family who opts to have their child attend PreK could access it, free of charge.

This could spell savings of thousands of dollars for many working families who have found early education to be essential for children, but increasingly burdensome on family income.

City of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made the announcement earlier this summer at a gathering at Truman College, one of the schools of the Chicago City Colleges system that specializes in the preparation of early childhood educators. Cornelia Grumman, Education Program Director for the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, moderated an hour-long panel discussion with Mayor Emanuel and CPS Chief Janice Jackson that accompanied the announcement.

In Fall 2018, the plan involves adding about 3,000 4-year-olds a year until a total of 24,000 are enrolled in full-day PreK. The city estimates that’s the number—representing about 70 percent of all 4-year-olds in the city, according to the U.S. Census—that will opt for public PreK.

Lowest income families already are served by programs such as Head Start, and highest income families are able to fully pay for PreK either through private programs or tuition-based programs within Chicago Public Schools. Typical costs of PreK can range anywhere from $7,000 to $14,000 a year.

Emanuel, facing nine challengers in a re-election campaign, claims no new city taxes or fees will need to be raised to cover the cost. Instead, he asserts the costs will be covered by the “peace dividend” to Chicago that came from the new state education funding formula. The estimated total cost of providing universal 4-year-old PreK is $175 million a year.

Families making less than $46,435 a year will be able to enroll first for free preschool. Higher income families will be incorporated over the next few years of expansion.

Erikson Institute President Geoff Nagle praises the city’s move toward universal 4-year-old PreK, but cautions that children’s learning needs to be optimized long before age four. “If we really want to support our families and make sure children get off to the best start, that starts at birth,” he said in a recent radio interview with public station WBEZ. “It means we need a constellation of services for families starting at birth.”

Remembering the Great War

by Paul Herbert, Executive Director, First Division Museum at Cantigny Park

This summer, the United States is observing the centennial of World War I. Late to the war in 1917, the fledging American Expeditionary Forces needed a year before any were combat ready. The first American battle was fought by the US First Division at Cantigny, 75 miles north of Paris, from May 28-31, 1918. As it unfolded, the Germans attacked along the Marne River and nearly reached Paris. However, the US 3d Division entered the fray at Chateau-Thierry. Immediately to the north, the US 2d Division with its brigade of Marines did likewise at Belleau Wood. With the Germans halted, the Allies went over to the counter-attack, not stopping until the Germans agreed to an Armistice on November 11, 1918. At Soisson and St. Mihiel, American doughboys made the critical difference. From September 26, 1918, to the Armistice, the United States fought its largest battle ever, between the Meuse River and the Argonne Forest in Lorraine. If all the 320,000 US casualties of the Great War were assigned to these five bloody months, they would amount to 2,000 Americans killed, wounded, missing or dead of disease, every day.

1st Inf. Division Color Guard: Cantigny, France 2018

Why such sacrifice? Because America sought to make the world safe for democracy. President Woodrow Wilson realized that a Europe under Imperial Germany must always be a threat to the United States and so, reluctantly, asked Congress to intervene in the war. Afterwards, the US withdrew from European affairs, only to return in a much bloodier and more dangerous Second World War. Since then, the United States led the NATO Alliance that defended democratic Europe for 50 years of Cold War and 30 years and counting of common security concerns. Alliance soldiers have served alongside Americans in the Balkans, north Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, eastern Europe and countless other places. Their service has secured a world order in which many nations, including the United States, are largely safe to pursue democracy and demagogues and terrorists do not rule. That is a fitting legacy of those brave doughboys of a century ago and an inheritance we dare not squander.

See more photos from WWI Centennial events in Cantigny, France

Readjusting to Civilian Life

by Emanuel Johnson, Program Officer, Veterans Program

Some would believe the toughest transition a veteran experiences is entering the military. Would you believe that returning home is much harder than leaving? Every year over 250,000 men and women return to civilian life not only seeking a new sense of purpose but a job, a way to connect to their community, and positive opportunities to reconcile the actions of their service with the person they want to become.

Only seven percent of America’s current population has served leaving many of our veterans returning home to communities that don’t understand their service or what opportunities exist after. Within that seven percent exist minority groups that face far more significant barriers to returning home. According the VA, women veterans are two to four times as likely as their non-veteran counterparts to experience homelessness, two times as likely to be using SNAP benefits than male veterans (13.0 vs. 6.3%) and have a yearly median income of $4,000 less than their male veteran counterparts. Against all those odds they are enrolled in higher education at rates higher than male veterans and the civilian female population, and more likely than those same two groups to be civically engaged. They represent over 30% of the fellows and platoon members in The Mission Continues.

A veteran’s transition back into the civilian community is a pivotal point in their life and can be the deciding factor of whether they thrive after their service or become one of the tragic stories we hear all too often on the news. We must welcome our veterans back into our communities with open arms and support veteran organizations that work for our veterans. For instance, the USO PathFinder program will engage service members up to year before they leave the military and a year after to help them navigate to the resources they and their families need. All too often our nation’s heroes fall through the cracks of society it is our responsibility to ensure a less rocky transition.

Census 2020: The Stakes Couldn’t Be Higher for Illinois

by Shawn P. Healy, PhD, Director, Democracy Program

Every 10 years, Americans are asked to fill out and return their Census questionnaires. It's an important decennial event, given that population counts guide billions in federal spending, determine congressional apportionment, and play a key role in shaping future policies.

Yet vast segments of the population often fail to respond. Greater racial and ethnic diversity, more nontraditional living arrangements, elevated poverty rates and a litany of other factors are also putting more people at risk of not being counted in 2020. These challenges, alongside other national administrative concerns, have major implications for residents and communities in Illinois.

The Census Bureau’s goal is to “count everyone once, only once, and in the right place,” but this is easier said than done. According to the Funders Census Initiative 2020, during the 1940 Census, 453,000 more men registered for the military draft than were reflected in the census. And while this disparity equated with only 3% of white men ages 21 to 35, it rose to 13% for black men in the same age cohort.

In 2010, the Census Bureau overcounted whites by 0.83%, but undercounted Black Americans by 2.06%, meaning that Blacks ceded 3% of their representation to whites. Communities of color are considered hard-to-count (HTC), as are low-income households (equated with renting) and young children.

When undercounted, HTC communities lose out on political representation, government funding, and even private investment. According to the George Washington Institute of Public Policy, $800 billion of federal funding supporting 300 programs is appropriated annually to states based on census counts. Due to Illinois’ undercount in 2010, the state lost $952 per person of federal funding. In 2015 alone, Illinois lost $122 million for every 1% of the population we failed to count.

The Center for Politics at the University of Virginia reports that Illinois has lost six congressional seats since 1960 as a result of slow or declining population growth. They predict the loss of at least one additional seat in 2020. Texas, by comparison, has gained 13 seats since 1960 and is projected to add three more in 2020.

It is widely known that Illinois is losing population in recent years, with losses most pronounced outside of metropolitan Chicago. In fact, 89 of Illinois’ 102 counties have experienced population loss from 2010 through 2017. Rockford, Kankakee, Decatur, and Metro East (suburban St. Louis) have been particularly hard hit, while Lake County is the only Chicago area county with a shrinking population.

Given the stakes of Census 2020, it’s imperative that we identify and mobilize HTC communities in Illinois. HTC 2020 is a tool developed to identify HTC’s and reports that 80.7% of Illinoisans completed their mail-in census forms in 2010, meaning more resource-intense, in-person follow-up for the remaining 19.3% in needed for the 2020 Census. The Census Bureau projects that 16% of our state’s population is HTC, and that 18.1% of households have access to the Internet when administration of the census is moving mostly online.

While HTCs are most prolific in the city of Chicago, there are pockets throughout the suburbs and Northern Illinois (see below). HTCs in Central Illinois include Peoria, Springfield, Bloomington-Normal, Decatur, and specific tracts in Metro East. In Southern Illinois, Carbondale, Cairo, and large portions of Pulaski County qualify as HTC.

Illinois’ demography presents significant challenges for Census 2020. The stakes are high politically and financially. We must all do our part to reach HTC’s, ensuring an accurate count of all Illinois’ communities.

In order to ensure that HTC’s are accurately represented in the 2020 Census, we must:

  • Spread the word about the stakes of the census for Illinois, HTC’s, and public institutions serving all Illinois residents.
  • Encourage state legislators to appropriate funding to support census outreach efforts and the Governor to prioritize a complete count in Illinois.
  • Enlist nonprofit leaders and educators to encourage their constituents to participate in the census.
  • Contribute to Forefront’s Democracy Initiative, which will re-grant funding to nonprofit organizations throughout Illinois to mobilize HTC constituencies.