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Healing Through Justice

A Youth-led Breakthrough Strategy For Healing-Centered Communities

One of Five Global Awardees of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s $80 Million Racial Equity 2030 Challenge.

At a time when we are facing a national youth mental health crisis, Chicago youth are leading a first-of-its kind partnership between Communities United and Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago to advance youth-led solutions that promote community healing. 

Communities United was recently awarded $10 million through the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Racial Equity 2030 Challenge. The award will support CU’s partnership with Lurie Children’s to advance “Healing Through Justice: A Community-led Breakthrough Strategy for Healing Centered Communities.” 


Our initiative was selected among 1,453 submissions from 72 countries around the world after a process of multiple levels of review, feedback, and diligence involving peer applicants and multi-disciplined experts from across the world.

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January 2012

Communities United develops Healing Through Justice framework out hundreds of narratives of young people who experience healing through their involvement.

 September 2017

CU develops partnership with John Walkup MD, Chair, Pritzker Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Lurie Children’s Hospital.

August 2021

The Healing Through Justice Initiative named as one of top ten finalists in W.K Kellogg Foundation's Racial Equity 2030 Challenge.  

October 2021

Youth leaders present on Healing Through Justice at the National Community Leadership Summit, hosted by the Vital Village Networks at Boston Medical Center.

January 2022

Youth lead MLK day event on systemic racism in the health system with over 200 health practitioners and leaders from Lurie Children’s.

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February 2022

CU Youth leaders in partnership with Lurie Children’s release “Changing the Beat of Mental Health” a youth-led research on the challenges and solutions to address the mental health and wellness among young men of color.

March 2022

CU & Lurie Children's hold roundtable with young women of color, gender non-conforming youth, and health practitioners of color to share their stories and identify resources needed to support healing.

May 2022

Youth leaders give testimony at the Illinois Public Safety and Anti-Violence Task Force on survivor-led solutions.

August 2022

CU & Lurie Children's present to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors on the Healing Through Justice Initiative.

October 2022

The Healing Through Justice Initiative named among one of five global awardees of the W.K Kellogg Foundation's Racial Equity 2030 Challenge.

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What is Healing Through Justice?

Over the past 10 years, Communities United developed the Healing Through Justice (HTJ) model, a youth leadership approach that acknowledges that the process of young people acting on their vision and solutions to address issues impacting them and their families can lead to transformative health and mental health outcomes.

Through its HTJ model, CU engages young people of color who conduct youth-led research, build alliances, and lead strategies and advocacy campaigns that are grounded in their lived experiences to create change in their communities.

In partnership with John Walkup, MD, Chair, Pritzker Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Lurie Children’s, the Healing Through Justice model has emerged as a promising model to create breakthroughs in the field of youth development and mental health. Communities United and Lurie Children’s are embarking on an 8-year path to document, evaluate, and disseminate new youth-led strategies, and their engagement with systems, to address deep-rooted challenges facing youth of color across our city.

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"It’s very exciting to know that our work is being recognized, especially at this moment when we are seeing a lot of need for healing in our communities. Being part of the work to create change in my community has helped me in my healing journey, and I have witnessed the same effect on my friends. We are ready to continue to grow our work and engage institutions on how they can support our vision for healing in our communities."

–Bezaleia "Bezzy" Reed, Communities United Youth Leader

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Emily got involved with CU in 2016 as a youth leader, in 2020 she became CU’s Operational Manager. As a proud transgender woman of color, Emily has devoted her life to the young people of Chicago and creating safe spaces for...

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A Call for City-Wide investment in Youth Mental Health Services and Community Resources

For decades, young people across the nation have struggled with mental health battles with little to no support or understanding from adults. In response, Communities United Youth Leader wrote an empowering piece in conversation with Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Dr. John Walkup calling on adult allies to support youths by investing in mental health services and community resources.

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President and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation on the Racial Equity 2030 initiative and reveals five awardees who will split $80 million to go toward the future of racial equity.

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Mental health resources

The research — presented Monday at Lurie Children’s in the hopes of securing $20 million to foster youth-led strategies on community healing and bettering mental health in Chicago.

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For more information or to get involved, please contact Laqueanda Reneau at or at 773.649.9391

To support this work, please contact Jenny Arwade at or 773.649.6882

Raul Botello at or 773.649.6497

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