Merriam-Webster announced its 2018 Word of the Year this weekend: justice. Searches for the word on Merriam-Webster.com spiked 74 percent since 2017, which is no surprise after a year full of national debates and news stories around social, racial, and criminal justice.
Here in Chicago, justice had a big year as well. Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder for the death of Laquan McDonald. The Chicago Tribune published a report detailing more than 500 reports of sexual abuse and rape at Chicago Public Schools. President Donald Trump also shone a spotlight on the city in his series of tweets about crime in Chicago. Chance the Rapper, one of Chicago’s great champions, also inspired youth through his nonprofit SocialWorks while highlighting the injustices he saw in his hometown.
Make It Better has a proud history of partnering with and supporting organizations in Chicago that stand up to injustice. This year we saw many of our partners do amazing things, including Forefront, which works to attract investments to charities and improve systems and policies in Illinois. They launched their new Democracy Initiative at their 44th Annual Luncheon this summer with special guest Valerie Jarrett.
Thresholds recently announced a new program to provide free legal support to justice-involved individuals living with serious mental health issues. This new initiative would cover a range of legal services including applying for Social Security disability and aiding with the transition out of Cook County Jail.
Through the Clear Skies Initiative and the Sky Cares Foundation, the Chicago Sky WNBA team is aiding troubled youth with the juvenile arrest expungement process so they have a chance at a better life. Nikki Childers, business development associate and second-year law student, wrote about the importance of the initiative in an October “You Said It” piece. “Especially for those who were not convicted, if a juvenile arrest record is not automatically expunged, it can follow people’s lives forever. Juvenile records can prohibit school financial aid, employment, and state-provided assistance,” Childers wrote. The Clear Skies Initiative also partnered with Janice Feinberg and the Englewood Data Hub to launch the new program.
Other organizations that fight for equal justice rights that we are proud to support include:
- BUILD, Inc.
- CAASE: Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation
- Housing Action Illinois
- James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy
- Juvenile Justice Initiative
- Mercy Housing Lakefront
Are there organizations or individuals in your community doing their part to fight for justice for all? We’d love to hear about them. Email us at [email protected]
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Macaire Douglas lives in Chicago with her husband and two sons. She proudly supports Share Our Spare, a local nonprofit that collects goods for children in need.