Forged out of personal tragedy, Chicago’s Citizens for Change, Inc. (“CCC”) was founded in May 2010 by a mother after the senseless and violent loss of her son. She and her family felt alone, traumatized, confused and unsupported, since there were no crisis or support services available for families of homicide victims at the time of her son’s murder.
Beginning in 2010, CCC, doing business as Chicago Survivors (CS) worked hard to foster recognition that a larger aftermath to violence was not being addressed in any systematic way. That violent loss can affect anyone--and affects everyone. That most crime victims would not receive any of the services they are entitled to under the law. That the youth, families, neighborhoods and society touched by violence would continue to disengage, deteriorate and fail. That if no one addressed the need, the cycle of violence would continue to succeed in a siloed and fragmented city that considered it normal.Chicago Survivors began working and advocating to change that. It collected perspectives of other survivors. It identified the systems needing the most change. Through the founder and other dedicated unpaid staff, CS served hundreds of families across this City. It created an active community of survivors. It began training the systems families are forced to encounter to reduce the traumatic experience. and bring change from the inside out. It stabilized families, then empowered them to share their lived experiences to promote change through peer support and advocacy.
Chicago Survivors became the sole provider of comprehensive crime victim services to all families who experience the homicide of a loved one in Chicago. Services are free and open to all. CS services include:
- Immediate Crisis Intervention;
- Supportive Counseling & Case Management;
- Child/Youth Supportive Counseling & Intervention Services;
- Community of Survivors Events and Support; and
- Criminal Justice and Victim Advocacy.
Chicago Survivors is uniquely survivor-informed, family-centered, field-based, and victim-rights oriented. Since 2016, CS has garnered federal, State and City funding, and is recognized at all these levels for their work. Private donations, corporate and foundation contributions have also helped Chicago Survivors grow and support families cope with the loss of a loved one to violence.
In 2014, the City of Chicago applied for and received federal funds for Chicago Survivors that enabled the organization to hire staff, build the service system, establish working relationships, and train law enforcement, medical examiner, and hospital staff to respond to victim families with greater compassion and effectiveness.