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Metropolitan CEO, Ric Estrada, speaks about violence prevention at Cities Striving for Peace event

Metropolitan CEO Ric Estrada speaking about Communities Partnering 4 Peace at “Cities Striving for Peace”

“I was raised in this city. I am a result of this city.” Metropolitan CEO, Ric Estrada, began his remarks at Leadership Greater Chicago’s Cities Striving for Peace event by sharing that he’s experienced violence. He acknowledged children of today experience the same violence.

But in his TED-style talk on the violence prevention efforts of Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P), he continued, “People, we all have to decide that today is the day we change this reality for our kids.”

View Ric’s remarks in the embedded post below:

CP4P, a Metropolitan-convened collaborative of nine organizations working to reduce violence in Chicago’s most-challenged communities, works to change this reality.

Learn more about CP4P here.

Speaking in front of 1,500+ people – including Governor JB Pritzker, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Arne Duncan of Chicago CRED – at the event, which convened five former big-city mayors who have successfully lowered gun violence in their communities, Ric spoke about the Metropolitan Peace Academy’s work to professionalize the field of street outreach. He shared the story of Rodney Phillips, one of the street outreach workers in the first cohort of the Peace Academy, who has been in and out of prison since he was 17 years old but now lives a transformed life and is helping to bring peace to Englewood.

Learn more about Cities Striving for Peace here.

“We have the antidote for violence,” Ric said, referring to street outreach workers. “They live in our community and are committed to transformation.” The Metropolitan Peace Academy brings together the city’s leading outreach workers and gives them a place to learn, collaborate, and build bonds.

“I leave you with a truism you’ve undoubtedly heard,” Ric concluded. “Hurt people hurt people. So when can we accept that healed people heal people? Transformed lives can transform lives.”

A presenter’s-eye view (thank you to Ric for sharing the photo!) of the panel moderated by Arne Duncan, with Antonio Villaraigosa from Los Angeles, Adrian Fenty from Washington, D.C., Mitch Landrieu from New Orleans, Betsy Hodges from Minneapolis, and Michael Nutter from Philadelphia
Click here to read Ric's remarks

I was raised in this city. I am a result of this city.  Like many Chicagoans, my family suffered the consequences of being poor in the hood.

Like many of you, I knew violence and terror all too well.

It’s not any better for the children of Chicago today. You all know the stories and the numbers.

People, we all have to decide that today is the day we change this reality for our kids.

I want to tell you about a group of people that is especially important in bringing long term, sustained peace to Chicago. They are street outreach workers. Diffusing violent situations – and preventing retaliatory acts inspired by that violence – is the heart of what they do.

Street outreach workers are highly skilled mediators. They build trusted personal and group relationships on the streets with perpetrators and victims of violence, as well as their family members, friends and the broader community. Simultaneously they must cultivate a “professional understanding” with law enforcement – while careful not to cross lines.

I represent a collaboration of 9 leading organizations united in our efforts to help bring peace to Chicago.  Together we have created “Communities Partnering 4 Peace,” better known as CP4P. 

Professionalizing street outreach is one of our top goals, and we’re working to do that through the Metropolitan Peace Academy.

Our graduates are people who left the street life, turned their lives around, and are now helping others do the same. They are a community of credible and experienced messengers who have overcome the most difficult life challenges, yet have now dedicated their lives in service to our city.

The Academy brings together Chicago’s leading street outreach workers and gives them a place to learn, collaborate and build bonds. Participants experience a rigorous 144-hour, 18-week curriculum. We graduated our first class last June. Our second cohort graduates this month.

The Peace Academy provides a sort of advanced degree in street outreach and peace building. Participants get college credit for this work and join a city-wide network as they tackle a problem that’s bigger than any one community. We aim to professionalize the practice of street outreach and turn it into a respected profession, benefitting the participants and our city.

Who are these outreach workers? They are people like Rodney Phillips, who is in the audience today. Rodney grew up near 35th Street in what was then the Stateway Gardens. Beginning in 1991 when he was just 17 he has been sentenced multiple times to prison on drug offences. His last sentence ended in 2016. But Rodney was always a peace maker. Today he lives a transformed life and is helping to bring peace to Englewood as an outreach worker and trainer in the Academy.

In Chicago, there were approximately 200 fewer homicides this year than there were 2 years ago, when CP4P launched. We clearly are not solely responsible for these results, but together with our partners – many in this room – we are building the eco-system that is making this possible.

We have the antidote for violence.  They live in our community and are committed to transformation.

I leave you with a truism you’ve undoubtedly heard– Hurt people hurt people.

So when can we accept that healed people heal people? That transformed lives can transform lives.