Sankofa’s mission is to provide trauma informed supportive services, supportive housing, referrals to resources that encourage under served families and communities to be strong, self sufficient, and remain intact.
Sankofa Safe Child Initiative (Sankofa), a 501(c)3, non-profit organization, grew directly out of a grass-roots community concern and activism. We originated from a Town Hall meeting on Adoption, Placement and Parental Rights hosted by U.S. Congressman Danny K. Davis and the National Council of Negro Women-Chicago Midwest Section. As a result; 38 recommendations were developed to ensure family preservation, stabilization and reunification and we’ve worked together with well over 33 village partners since 1999 to help keep families and communities intact.
Sankofa opened its doors in 1999 with a mission to provide supportive services, referrals, resources and skills that encourage underserved families and communities to be strong, self-sufficient and remain intact. Each year, Sankofa serves more than 400 underserved families involved in the juvenile justice system throughout the Chicago land area and the state of Illinois. Operating in Chicago’s North Lawndale community – a community that struggled to recover after the devastating riots in 1968 following the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. – Sankofa addresses issues that threaten the individual and family viability of low-income residents. Though civil rights legislation has changed prospects overall for African Americans, residents of too many communities, including North Lawndale, continue to suffer disadvantages based on race and socio-economics.
Sankofa works effortlessly to reduce the recidivism rates among juveniles and increase life prospects of low-income families in North Lawndale as well as break the cycle of poverty and disadvantage. According to the North Lawndale Juvenile Justice Snap Shot Report (2009-2010); North Lawndale is one of the highest childhood poverty rates in Chicago which may be one reason for the high arrests among juveniles. According to Chicago Police Department’s data; the 11th Police District had the 2nd highest numbers of juvenile arrest and North Lawndale is housed in both the 10th (population 61% Hispanic & 34% African Americans) and 11th (population 92% African American & 6% Hispanic) Police Districts. According to the Healthy Chicago 2.0 Partnering to Improve Health Equity 2016-2020 Report; 1 in 2 African American and Hispanic children live in low child opportunity areas compared to 1 in 50 white children. Over 20% of youth ages 16-19 residing in North Lawndale are classified as “disconnected” which means; they’re not enrolled in school or gainfully employed which is very challenging for them to become self-sufficient tax paying citizens.
Sankofa also provides significant support services to grandparents raising grandchildren. Family caregivers who are seniors especially struggle to communicate with their grandchildren around critical issues of today’s generation including substance abuse, teen violence and date rape, HIV/AIDS awareness, elder abuse, teen pregnancy prevention, reproductive education, mental health issues, and coping with parental separation. Childhood Trauma can disrupt a child’s normal development and lead to physical, emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and social problems. Chicago reported that 84% of the youth report multiple exposures to trauma and all children taken into custody by child welfare are suspected to have been abused or neglected, which may be a traumatic event. In addition, Lesbian/ Gay/ Bi-sexual/ Transgender issues have moved to the forefront of communication needs. All of these issues pose specific challenges for older seniors who are parenting for the second time in a societal context quite different from that in which they raised their own children.
We are challenged by Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of the National Council of Negro Women to “Leave No One Behind” and will accomplish it by providing and/or referring families and their children to appropriate community services.
“Sankofa House; dubbed as: Miracle on 12th Street” by grandparents raising grandchildren. Over 47,000 grandparents are raising grandchildren in the Chicago area alone, therefore on May 30, 2007, we broke ground for this new 58-unit supportive housing facility designed for Grandparents/Kinship Caregivers Raising Children and Young Adults Aging out of Foster Care at 4041 W. Roosevelt Rd., in the North Lawndale Community. This housing facility is now leased up and intergenerational activities are going on!
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Nicole (Nikki) Harvey, Board Chair
Kimberly Jackson, Vice Chair
Regina Lewis, Treasurer
Janice Henry, Secretary
Annetta Wilson, Executive Director
Antoinette Mayfield, Executive Assistant
Dr. Lawrence Cox
Dr. Gina Franklin-Liverpool
RRJ Project Manager:
Dr. Leonard Johnson