VOYCE Project

Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) is a youth organizing alliance convened by Communities United for education and racial justice led by students of color from across the city of Chicago. VOYCE focuses on developing a youth leadership pipeline of youth of color to advance safe and supportive school climates and healing-centered approaches to teaching and learning.

For over a decade, VOYCE and our allies have been organizing to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline in Chicago and Illinois, making sweeping changes to end zero tolerance practices and expand the use of restorative justice. 

Over the past year, in partnership with Community Organizing on Family Issues (COFI), The ARK of St. Sabina, BUILD Inc, and Mikva Challenge, VOYCE took on a journey to partner with CPS to lead the District’s community engagement process to develop a plan for alternatives to the SRO program for the district and reinvest in holistic approaches to school safety. Through this process and along with our partner organizations, we engaged over 650 youth, parents, and other stakeholders in developing a plan to dramatically change school safety, particularly for our Black and Brown communities. 

As a result of this hard work, 32 schools have opted to use alternative strategies to school safety resulting in the reinvestment of over $3.2 million from police in schools into holistic approaches to school safety. VOYCE youth leaders will continue to organize to transform what comprehensive school safety looks like across the third largest school district.

Impact

  • Created the nation’s most comprehensive statewide school discipline reform, SB100, ending zero tolerance at all publicly-funded schools in Illinois

  • Youth-led research and organizing work led to key changes in Chicago Public Schools Student Code of Conduct to approach student drug and alcohol use through a public health approach.

  • VOYCE youth efforts have led to the reinvestment of over $3.2 million from police toward holistic approaches to school safety in the third largest school district in the country

For more information about VOYCE or get involved, please contact Maria Degillo at [email protected] or at 773-583-1387.