Partner Spotlight

Metropolitan Family Services: Strengthening South Side neighborhoods, together

According to the 2021-2022 Community Health Needs Assessment, high rates of violent crime are related to a lack of economic opportunities.

Collaborating with street outreach teams helps UChicago Medicine reduce reinjury and promote violence recovery. Street outreach teams intervene in the community to de-escalate tensions, control rumors and support families of victims and perpetrators of violence to prevent the next violent act.

A partner in our violence recovery work is the Metropolitan Family Services and its Peace Academy, which focuses on reducing gun violence in at-risk communities. Learn more about how Violence Recovery Specialist Tierra Lemon took part in the Peace Academy, an 18-week program focusing on street outreach and violence prevention.

The Violence Recovery Program

Addressing trauma and mental health in our communities

The Violence Recovery Program (VRP) is the University of Chicago Medicine’s hospital-based violence intervention program. Violence Recovery Specialists from different backgrounds provide support to victims of intended violence, as well as their families.

The violence recovery team works with patients and their families in the Emergency Department and after they go home. Violence Recovery Specialists help patients with their recovery and safety. They also assess the patient’s needs for services related to social determinants of health. Violence Recovery Specialists can help patients and their families connect to resources for:

  • Education
  • Employment
  • Food security
  • Funeral services
  • Housing
  • Mental health
  • Street outreach

Violence Recovery Program, FY 2022

Helping others after trauma

Discover how Violence Recovery Specialist Martinez Sutton’s personal tragedy led him to help others affected by violence: Violence recovery specialist draws on personal experience to help patients and families heal after trauma.

BHC Collaborative

Helping children and families recover from trauma

UChicago Medicine’s Violence Recovery Program (VRP) has grown as part of the Block Hassenfeld Casdin (BHC) Collaborative for Family Resilience. The BHC Collaborative started in 2019 with a $9.1 million gift from the Ellen & Ronald Block Family Foundation and the Hassenfeld Family Foundation.

Now in its fourth year, the program is an important resource for children and families affected by gun violence.

Through the BHC Collaborative, the VRP has worked with or provided referrals to a total of 6,211 patients or their family members since 2019. Of these, 3,504 patients were 21 years old or younger. Interventions and/or referrals are offered to violence recovery program patients with social service or mental health needs.

3,181 patients and/or families (90.8% of the total seen) received one or more interventions during crisis

270 families (7.7%) received one or more crisis interventions when a patient died after being admitted to the hospital

3,244 patients (92.7%) received one or more social services interventions

336 received housing interventions (52 were given housing referrals)

377 received employment interventions (206 were given employment referrals)

113 received food interventions (71 were given food referrals)

154 received education interventions

1,298 received victim’s compensation support interventions

1,017 received mental health interventions (302 were given mental health referrals)

123 received transportation assistance interventions

The Block Hassenfeld Casdin (BHC) Collaborative for Family Resilience also includes:

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Child Life Specialists work with children and teens and their families who are in the hospital because of violent injuries. They provide personal therapeutic services including help with returning to school and support for siblings.

Social workers help patients who are struggling with mental health conditions, substance use and domestic abuse. They also work with survivors of sexual assault.

Spiritual Care Chaplains are clinically trained spiritual care providers who offer support to patients and their families, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

BHC Collaborative funding greatly expanded our ability to support trauma patients in the emergency room and the hospital. With 12 board-certified chaplains, we are now able to have one chaplain just for trauma patients. Spiritual care supports about 13,000 patients a year, with 15% in Comer Children’s Hospital.

For patients under age 19 who have been injured from violence, HHP-C offers online and community-based services including intensive case management and group sessions for young people with violent injuries. HHP-C has people who can go with patients to medical appointments, school and court. They offer family support, advocacy and more.

REACT (Recovery & Empowerment After Community Trauma) provides mental healthcare for children and young adult (18 to 25 years) trauma patients who are affected by community violence and who may or may not have been injured. Patients are evaluated and, if needed, referred for trauma-informed therapy. There are also services for the caregivers of patients.

From October 2021 to September 2022, REACT and HHP-C served 512 children, adolescents, and adult family members affected by trauma, including 260 violently injured patients of all ages at UChicago Medicine. REACT and HHP-C served a record number of violently injured children and adolescents this year: 196 patients aged 19 or under received outreach, support, and/or psychoeducation. This is compared to 176 patients in 2020 and 165 in 2021.

BHC Collaborative Grants

The BHC Collaborative grants helped three community organizations serve more people

Bright Star Community Outreach (BSCO) — This grant supported BSCO’s CARE (Care and Resilient Environment) Room to help high school students with trauma. In the CARE Rooms, students can talk to a trained counselor or sit quietly.

Centers for New Horizons — Funding provided more access to trauma care and services related to health and wellness, workforce development, and supportive services. Support services include help with transportation, funerals, child care, education, and housing. It also allows Centers to provide one-on-one and weekly counseling sessions for youth affected by violence.

Gary Comer Youth Center — The funding helped add more clinical and community services around trauma resiliency and restorative justice practices. These will help young people and families recover from the immediate and long-lasting effects of trauma.

Funding from the Southland RISE grant is critical for the Male Mogul Initiative because these funds help us to continue to positively transform the way young men live and lead in their communities through leadership and entrepreneurship development.

Walter Mendenhall, Executive Director, Male Mogul Initiative Inc. NFP (2022 Southland RISE grant recipient)
Southland RISE

Working with South Side communities to keep kids safe

Southland RISE (Resilience Initiative to Strengthen and Empower), is a partnership of the trauma recovery programs from the University of Chicago Medicine and Advocate Health Care. In 2022, Southland RISE awarded $150,000 to 18 community-based organizations for their summer programs, which focused on such areas as leadership, sailing, storytelling, civic engagement, street outreach and more. Many of the programs work to support mental health, build trauma resiliency and teach skills to stop violence.

In the past four years, Southland RISE has awarded more than $500,000 to grassroots organizations on the South Side.

The grant recipients for 2022 were:

To learn more about one of the Southland RISE grant recipients, the Male Mogul Initiative, read here.

Twenty years from now, they will tell the story of how we worked with community partners, researchers, and experts in the field to create a comprehensive approach that finally reduced violence.

Franklin Cosey-Gay, PhD, MPH, Director,
Violence Recovery Program