Youth Leadership Council

What is the Youth Leadership Council?
Talented, committed, and inspiring youth between the ages of 12 and 17 participate in the Youth Leadership Council (YLC) – an intensive program in civic engagement and social justice. Participants are trained on leadership, community development, and self-empowerment, with the goal of creating an independent team that votes on and leads its own projects in the community.

What does the Youth Leadership Council Do?
With guidance, the Youth Leadership Council discusses problems in the community, and thinks out solutions to fix each problem. Teens work together to implement their vision of a solution. They may team up with community organizations, government figures, the police, and schools to create positive solutions to problems that they encounter in their everyday lives. While the youth have the final say in the project they choose to implement in the community, some examples may include:

  • Organizing community events against violence and bullying
  • Advocating for a community center, summer jobs/internships, and educational supports
  • Supporting alternatives to detentions and suspensions, such as peace circles
  • Leading anti-violence workshops in their school, community center, or church
  • Hosting public meetings between police and students/residents to improve mutual trust and communication

Why join the Youth Leadership Council?
The YLC addresses issues directly, empowers youth to plan and execute their own initiatives, and supports them with the mentoring, leadership tools, and civic engagement skills. In addition, all Youth Leadership Council participants will experience the following direct benefits:

  • Meet like-minded students who have a VOICE in the community
  • Build leadership & problem-solving skills
  • Earn credit for community service hours
  • Build your resume and/or college application
  • Create programs in the community that YOUTH want to see

For more information, or to join the Youth Leadership Council, please contact ASE at 773-221-8908.

Right photo credit: Julia Hunter,

“I’ve never been apart of a mural making project, it made me feel like my voice mattered. We got to draw out what other people think about Southsiders and got to create a real representation of who we really are.”

-Dejarae Keenan, YLC leader & Baker College Prep student


GRACE: Restorative Justice on the Southeast Side

Our communities are facing an epidemic of youth incarceration and recidivism. Too many of our young people are growing up in a climate of violence, without the economic opportunities, community mentors, and training they need to thrive and grow.

That’s why the Alliance of the Southeast (ASE) and affiliated community partners have launched GRACE (Groups Responding with Another Chance and Education) a comprehensive strategy for restorative justice in the South Chicago neighborhood of the 4th Police District.

It is with the participation of the community that we hope to transform their lives, guide them to community resources, and make them leaders in their community.

GRACE is a community-integrated  intervention approach to youth sentencing to reduce recidivism and curb youth violence. GRACE intervenes with juvenile offenders with restorative justice practices, mentoring, and counseling. Cook County Juvenile Probation and Diversion Departments and 4th District Police Department will refer juvenile offenders to community service hours with ASE partners, to re-integrate them into the community, form relationships with local residents, and connect them to resources. Although ASE will take referrals for youth living anywhere in the 4th District, the GRACE program will focus on juvenile offenders living or attending school between 82nd and 95th Streets, east of South Chicago Ave.

Jail and juvenile detention centers can be traumatizing places for youth offenders. Many enter the system and find it difficult to get out. Meanwhile, studies have shown that community service and counseling sentences have dramatic effects to reduce recidivism rates for young people, while providing them with the skills, connections, mentors, and support they need to reintegrate successfully into their neighborhoods.

Through ASE’s GRACE Program for Restorative Justice, youth offenders can now be sentenced to community service with the following partner organizations:

  • Alliance of the Southeast
  • Claretian Associates
  • 10th Ward Alderwoman Susan Sadlowski Garza’s Office
  • SkyArt

This approach will affect dozens of at risk juvenile offenders per year, and reduce overall the predominance of youth violence in South Chicago.

For more information, please contact Amalia NietoGomez at 773-221-8908 or 773-800-0322.