Bright Promises Announces Grants to 13 Organizations Addressing Youth Racial Trauma

July 18, 2023

Addressing Racial Trauma: An Urgent, Under-Recognized Need

About the Healing, Leading, Changing Initiative

Building on a decade of work to advance the field of childhood trauma, Bright Promises launched the Healing, Leading, Changing initiative to provide community organizations with funding and support to develop, test, implement, document, and disseminate strategies for addressing childhood trauma caused by racism. The purpose of this initiative is to improve the capacity of child-serving organizations to address youth trauma caused by racism, and to facilitate a cross-organization Youth Council that will develop tools and resources to share with other organizations so that more youth can heal, become more resilient, and thrive. 

This June, Bright Promises selected four new organizations to form the third cohort of Healing, Leading, Changing partner organizations and renewed our multi-year commitment to nine other organizations.

Congratulations to:

New Partnerships

Four organizations serving a diverse range of youth make up Cohort 3 of the Healing, Leading, Changing initiative. Below is an overview of each organization and how Bright Promises support will help them to address racial trauma among the youth they serve.

A Long Walk Home: A Long Walk Home (ALWH) is a national art organization based in Chicago that empowers young people to end violence against girls and women. The Girl/friends Leadership program selects Black girls and gender non-conforming youth ages 12-18 throughout Chicagoland to participate in a two-year art intensive and social justice leadership program.

ALWH works intergenerationally, through a Black feminist lens, to achieve gender and racial justice by centering the leadership of Black girls and gender-expansive young people of color on reshaping culture and policy through advocacy and youth-led programming. The Bright Promises grant would be utilized to rebuild their summer institute curriculum, integrating the impact of racial trauma.

Build, Inc.: As a mission, BUILD inspires hope and offers opportunities so youth facing systemic obstacles can achieve positive futures. Since 1969, BUILD has been a second family for Chicago’s marginalized youth, helping thousands of young people facing the steepest challenges—like poverty, involvement in the justice system, and chronic exposure to violence and other sources of trauma—become leaders in safer, stronger communities. Their Youth Leadership Council (YLC) is designed to encourage young people, ages 16-24, to find their voice and develop confidence in themselves as leaders, while giving them a platform to address issues that are important to them, their peers, and their communities.

The overall goal of the program is to support youth leadership and civic engagement by developing young Chicagoans as local leaders through this paid service-learning opportunity. Some other social justice and activism topics that are covered in Youth Council include: creating an action plan; effective criticism; racism, bias, and discrimination; and diversity, equity and inclusion. The Bright Promises grant would be used to provide much needed support to provide the necessary staff and resources to effectively operate the program.

Gads Hill Center: Gads Hill Center, a social service organization established in 1898, creates opportunities for children and their families to build a better life through education, access to resources, and community engagement. Their Building Leaders program serves 30 youth between the ages of 11-19. Gads Hill Center will provide psycho-educational group sessions focusing on the sources of racism, impact of racial trauma, and strategies to cope with and heal from racial trauma. The workshops will provide youth with the skills, knowledge, and intellectual capacity to understand and assess the impact of racism and racial trauma on themselves, their families and friends, their communities, and society as a whole. Additionally, Building Leaders’ students and the older Junior Building Leaders’ students will create six podcasts during the 2023-24 school year focusing on topics that the students have collectively decided on. Building Leaders’ students will hold monthly youth council meetings throughout the 2023-24 school year with council members discussing racism, trauma, healing, advocacy, and activism and developing and implementing strategies to address racism and its impact.

Building Leaders’ students will plan a Youth Peace Summit to be held in Spring 2024 for Junior Building Leaders’ and Building Leaders’ students with forums led by community leaders and workshops on a range of topics that impact the youth, including racism, violence and gangs, poverty, mental and behavioral health, and success in school and careers. The Bright Promises grant will be utilized to support the staffing of this comprehensive program and to provide additional organizational support.

Project Vision, Inc.: Project: VISION’s (PV) mission is to help youth of Chicago’s Greater Chinatown community reach their full potential by providing them with tools for educational, personal, and civic development. Their Middle School Program & High School Scholars Program serves 350 youth, 98% of which are Asian American. This program aims to create more spaces within current programs to help youth name and unpack race-based trauma, build healthier racial and cultural identities for themselves, and engage in activities that nurture resilience: In this stream of work, they will aim to intentionally build content and activities into the curriculum of existing programs to bring recognition to RBTS as well as implement the strategies that promote healing and build coping skills and resilience. In addition, the grant will help provide programming to ensure adult caregivers are equipped to support youth experiencing RBTS. PV’s Parent Engagement Coordinator will work to develop a series of educational workshops that support parents and other caregivers to further destigmatize mental health, increase understanding of the impacts of racial trauma, learn ways to have conversations about racism with teens, and support the development of positive cultural identity.