It is critical to give our youth the resources and opportunities to engage as citizens in the fight for justice. The Blocks Together Youth Council is the youth organizing arm of Blocks Together and is open to youth that live or go to school in West Humboldt Park.
BT youth lead campaigns for policies and practices that create safer learning environments without pushing youth out into the hands of the criminal justice system. They stand together against the school-to-prison pipeline evidenced by the police processing center located in the local high school, metal detectors and surveillance cameras, police officers assigned to patrol inside the school, zero tolerance policies that result in some of the highest rates for suspension and expulsions at our schools, and the lack of resources for failing schools. The BT youth council has been at the forefront of the push for and development of innovative Restorative Justice approaches in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and is a member of the Dignity in Schools Campaign challenging the national school pushout crisis.
-Created interactive Know Your Rights workshops for youth by youth on school discipline and policing.
-Won the public release of school-based arrest rates in 2006.
-Won the replacement of Zero Tolerance language with Restorative Justice language in CPS discipline code through informal coalition of restorative justice advocates citywide in 2007.
-Won commitment from CPS office of Safety and Security to pilot our restorative justice training for security guards in 2010.
-Won commitment from Orr High School to refer cases of minor misconduct to the BT trained Peer Jury instead of suspension in 2011.
-Partnered with Cameron Elementary to build model of whole-school approach to Restorative Justice 2012.
-Won the decrease of maximum out-of-school suspensions in CPS from 10 days down to five days through the High HOPES campaign in 2012.
To learn more, watch BT youth Council Member Edward Ward testify at the first ever Congressional Hearing on the School-to-prison Pipeline Click Here.