In a ceremony on August 15, 2019 a crowd of family, friends and fellow CRED members celebrated as 52 graduates received their diplomas. The afternoon featured speeches from students and mentors, concluding with a spoken word performance from Grammy-winner J Ivy.
WTTW in Chicago profiled CRED's approach to solving the epidemic of gun violence in Chicago, at a time when the city deals with the annual summer increase in shootings.
The ConTextos Authors Circle was developed in collaboration with young people at-risk of, victims of, or perpetrators of violence in El Salvador. In 2017, this innovative program expanded into Chicago to create tangible, high quality opportunities that nourish the minds, expand the voices and share the personal truths of individuals who have long been underserved and underestimated. Through the process of drafting, revising, and publishing memoirs, participants develop self-reflection, critical thinking, camaraderie, and positive self-projection to author new life narratives.
On Friday, April 6, 2018, 24 more young men from Chicago CRED walked across the graduation stage. After months of work through Penn Foster's online degree program, they earned high school diplomas—another step in the journey toward transforming their lives and communities.
In his remarks at the ceremony, Emerson Collective Managing Partner Arne Duncan said, "Despite all the challenges and all the pain you sometimes feel, I am wildly optimistic about where our city is going to go. And it's not because of what us older folk are going to do. It's going to be because of your hard work, your leadership."
At NationSwell’s fifth annual Summit, Billy joined Emerson Collective Managing Partner Arne Duncan and two recent Chicago CRED graduates, James Collins and Deontae Allison, for an hourlong discussion to explore better avenues to dramatically curb shootings in one of our nation’s greatest cities. In the context of the work of Chicago CRED, Arne, Billy, James and Deontae implored the audience to draw closer to the root causes of gun violence, and to better understand the young men involved in some of Chicago’s most broken neighborhoods—and, most importantly, how peace and safety begins with creating new, reimagined relationships.
On March 24, 2018, millions of young people rallied around the world to end gun violence and enact policy reform. Men from Chicago CRED joined more than 400 Chicago youth at the event, adding their voices on behalf of the movement to end gun violence in Chicago.
Arne Duncan and Dale Erquiaga Op Ed in USA Today
Men from Chicago CRED recently participated in the ConTextos Chicago Project, an intensive writing program that incorporates peaceful conflict resolution with the power of personal memoir writing. The authors learned to “read as writers” as they authored powerful memoirs, engaged in constant conversation with their peers to learn how to disagree peacefully and give positive feedback, and finally publish their work in the form of beautifully illustrated books. These stories will be used to create conversations that build empathy with families, teachers, the community and others.
The CRED men have written a rich array of stories that are as varied as they are, each illuminating a personal journey marked by perseverance, hope, and a determination for many new chapters ahead.