The Safe Passage program started as a grassroots collaborative effort by the Black United Fund of Illinois, Inc. (BUFI) in 2007 in the South Shore Community. It has since spread throughout the city of Chicago and been emulated nationwide. This grassroots initiative was implemented to keep the children in our communities safe as they traveled to and from school daily. BUFI, along with Coalition for Improved Education in South Shore (CIESS), the CAGI/MASH unit and community volunteers began this initiative by putting boots on the ground. They stood on the corners and posts along the more populated routes that children used in order to help curve and stop the violence and crime which was occurring as the children were trying to get to and from school.
It wasn’t long until the efforts were noticed by other communities, the Chicago Public Schools and the City of Chicago as a whole. They saw the positive effects of the SAFE PASSAGE initiative at schools like Bouchette Math and Science Academy and South Shore High School, who began seeing their attendance numbers increase. The surrounding community also saw the crime rate and fear go down while the volunteer watchers were out there.
It was in 2010 that the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) began to implement and contract Safe Passage Watchmen throughout the Chicagoland area. They provided paid employment and work experience for the parents and community members who came out to take care of the children going to and from school.
Since its inception BUFI has been one of the largest provider of Safe Passage for several communities including, but not limited to, South Shore, South Chicago, Inglewood and Roseland. BUFI has handled numerous schools simultaneously is currently managing 6 High Schools and 6 Elementary Schools.
Crime Prevention and Community Impact
Before the initiative began, there were higher numbers of crimes reported including assault, robberies, drug usage, and prostitution. The Safe Passage program has demonstrated the ability to lower incident rates and maintain consistently safer environments for CPS students. The Black United Fund of Illinois has successfully provided the services, training, manpower and expertise required to operate this project and continues to look forward to working with CPS to improve the safety and overall performance of CPS students.
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QUALIFICATIONS TO BE A SAFE PASSAGE WATCHMAN FOR BUFI
1809 East 71st Street, Chicago, IL 60649, Phone: 773/324-0494, Fax: 773/324-6678
Schools that BUFI has serviced through Safe Passage over the years:
Bennett Elementary School
Bouchet Math and Science Academy
Carrie Jacobs Bond Elementary School
Harold Washington Elementary
Harvard School of Excellence
Joplin Elementary School
Metcalf Elementary Community Academy
Myra Bradwell Communication Arts and Science Academy
Parkside Community Academy
Shoop Academy of Math, Science and Technology
Wentworth Elementary School
Chicago Vocational Career Academy
Christian Fenger Academy High School
Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy
Percy L. Julian High School
Morgan Park High School
South Shore High School
South Shore International College Preparatory High School