The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum serves as a dynamic memorial to social reformer Jane Addams, the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and her colleagues whose work changed the lives of their immigrant neighbors as well as national and international public policy. Founded in 1889 as a social settlement, Hull-House played a vital role in redefining American democracy in the modern age. Addams and the residents of Hull-House helped pass critical legislation and influenced public policy on public health and education, free speech, fair labor practices, immigrants’ rights, recreation and public space, arts, and philanthropy. Hull-House has long been a center of Chicago’s political and cultural life, establishing Chicago’s first public playground and public art gallery, helping to desegregate the Chicago Public Schools, and influencing philanthropy and culture. The Museum preserves and develops the original Hull-House site for the interpretation and continuation of the historic settlement house vision, linking research, education, and social change.
Peace Institute of Cambodia (PIC) offers education in peace, leadership, conflict resolution, and reconciliation to Cambodian youth. We created PIC because real peace, social justice and law enforcement still do not exist in our society. The poverty, impunity, culture of violence, human rights violations, and political discrimination are barriers of building a culture of peace in Cambodia. The PIC’s mission is to develop critical thinking skills and qualified leadership; encourage and empower youth to take an active role in resolving community issues; provide mental and technical support for youth groups. We envisions a society where people are committed to practice the balance of spiritual and material value that leads to a culture of peace.
The Cambodian Association of Illinois is a nonprofit, comprehensive social service organization founded in 1976 by a group of Cambodian refugee volunteers who responded to the needs of Cambodians who were resettling in Chicago after fleeing the tyranny, brutality, and torture of the Khmer Rouge genocide in which two million Cambodians perished. CAI services some 5,000 Cambodians in Illinois, 3,000 in Chicago alone, all of whom are Cambodian refugees or the children of refugees who escaped the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge and Cambodian Killing Fields. The Cambodian Association of Illinois is the only non-profit organization in the Chicago metropolitan area that provides bilingual programming to address the interrelated social and economic needs of our local Cambodian American population. The Cambodian Association of Illinois serves refugees and immigrants from Cambodia residing in Illinois in order to enable them to become self-sufficient, productive participants in American society while preserving and celebrating their cultural heritage and community.
Free Spirit Media provides education, access, and opportunity in media production to over 500 underserved urban youth every year. Since 2000, Free Spirit Media has offered life-changing experiences to youth across Chicago. FSM is advancing education and digital learning through an innovative program model. Hands-on and project-based media production opportunities with FSM are helping young people develop their authentic voice while actively learning about and addressing community issues. FSM cultivates diverse youth voices creating an engaging and relevant learning environment and stimulates meaningful media creation, building a foundation that allows for an entrepreneurial and visionary culture, developing spirited involvement, and by making equality, solidarity, and inclusivity essential in positively transforming media and society.
The Chicago Grassroots Curriculum Taskforce is a volunteer grassroots group working on curriculum development of A Peoples Chicago: Our Stories of Change and Struggle. The Chicago Grassroots Curriculum Taskforce (CGCT) is working to revolutionize the traditional educational model of classroom learning, by infusing the curriculum with local and relevant content from students’ lives-- through their families, cultures, histories, communities, and experiences. As a local clearinghouse, the CGCT seeks to bring students, parents, educators, and elders to the table to compile, publish, and advocate for these culturally relevant materials in our schools (grades K-16). Fueled by community-crafted curriculum, and with an emphasis on local struggles, students engage in critical analysis and action, the arts, community building, and youth-led change in Chicago.
The mission of the Chicago Freedom School is to create new generations of critical thinking young people who use their unique experiences and power to create a just world. CFS provides training and educational opportunities for youth and adult allies to develop leadership skills through the lens of civic action and through the study of the history of social movements and their leaders. Inspired and informed by the original Freedom Schools founded in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement, CFS takes an innovative approach to civic engagement, leadership development, and movement building. Our programs, resources and trainings invite young people and adult allies to study of the work of past movements, deepen their understanding of current social problems, build new coalitions and develop strategies for change.
Project NIA offers a new way of thinking about crime and violence. Project NIA uses the principles of participatory community justice – often called restorative or transformative justice – which has been shown to meet the needs of victims, reduce recidivism, and improve satisfaction with the legal system. Community-based justice models redefine the goals of the criminal legal system to include the prevention of crime as well as community member involvement in addressing crime. Project NIA believes that communities are strengthened when local citizens participate in responding to crime, delinquency, and violence because they are more likely to tailor responses to the preferences and needs of victims, perpetrators, and their neighbors.
The Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health is a network of empowered youth and allied adults who transform public consciousness and build capacity of family, school and healthcare systems to support the sexual health, identities, and rights of youth. We educate, advocate, and organize for reproductive justice for youth in Illinois. We believe that an organized effort for cultural shifts in beliefs about young people’s rights and capacity to make decisions about their bodies will both impact policy and the direct experience that young people encounter in accessing sexuality education and sexual health care. We believe that this process involves both raising the capacity of youth AND adults to partner for change.
Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM) aims to honor and to seek justice for the survivors of Chicago police torture, their family members and the African American communities affected by the torture. In 2010 CTJM, a group of attorneys, artists, educators, and social justice activists, put out a call for speculative memorials to recall and honor the two-decades long struggle for justice waged by torture survivors and their families, attorneys, community organizers, and people from every neighborhood and walk of life in Chicago. This effort culminated in a major exhibition of 75 proposals and a year-long series of associated teach-ins, roundtables, and other public events in 2011-2013.CTJM now turns its attention to a campaign for reparations for those affected by Chicago Police torture, and to working in solidarity with other groups and individuals for racial justice and to end police violence and mass incarceration.
The Social Justice Initiative (SJI) at UIC is a campus-wide project that grew out of several streams of activity and discussion. Begun as a collective effort in 2010 by UIC faculty, staff, students, administrators and community partners, SJI seeks to build upon and foreground a critically important part of our mission as a diverse public research university in a global but often contested city. Our student body is composed of a large number of immigrant and first generation students, Black, Latino, Asian- American, and working class whites whose families and home communities are rich in talent, human resources, wit and wisdom, but still confront an amalgam of problems and challenges. Many of our students, even those who come from more privileged backgrounds, are motivated and passionate about using their education and energy to give back to struggling communities, and in essence, “change and improve the world.” SJI respects that idealism and wants to help young people add to it a set of critical thinking and research skills that will make them more effective social change agents and ethical and socially conscious professionals.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago, a member of Advancing Justice, has a mission to empower the Asian American community through advocacy, by utilizing education, research, and coalition-building. Advancing Justice | Chicago was established in 1992 by a group of visionary Chicago community activists, academicians, and business leaders in response to the growing need to build a pan-Asian policy agenda among Chicago's diverse Asian American communities. Advancing Justice | Chicago projects a united voice on the most pressing issues of concern to Asian Americans in metropolitan Chicago. Its staff and board work closely with a broad network of established community leaders and emerging activists who have bridged ethnic and cultural differences to find solutions to shared concerns.
Circles & Ciphers is a leadership development program for disengaged young men that uses peace making circles and hip hop ciphers to transform legacies. Circles and Ciphers builds and mobilizes a healthy, youth-led community among prisons, court-s, and gangs involved young men (predominantly African-American, ages 14-22) from Chicago. We use hip-hop infused peacemaking circles and creative arts projects on a wide variety of themes, including: masculinity; violence; school; gangs and gang histories; stereotypes; policing; relationships. Participants are empowered to derail a legacy of disengagement.
We are sites, individuals, and initiatives activating the power of places of memory to engage the public in connecting past and present in order to envision and shape a more just and humane future.” The need to remember often competes with the equally strong pressure to forget. Even with the best of intentions – such as to promote reconciliation after deeply divisive events by “turning the page” – erasing the past can prevent new generations from learning critical lessons while forever compromising opportunities to build a peaceful future. Without safe spaces to remember and preserve these memories, the stories of elderly survivors of atrocity can vanish when they pass away, societies that have overcome conflicts may never seek justice for fear of re-opening old wounds, and the families of the disappeared may never find answers. But these memories belong to us all. Their stories are our stories and their history is our history. This is why the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience exists.