Community Conversations - We Raise Foundation

Community Conversations

Interested in digging deeper and learning more about the complex issues at the intersection of poverty, violence, and inequality? Join We Raise Foundation as we host topical, interactive conversations on these issues via Facebook Live. We’ll hear from practitioners, researchers, and experts in the field, who will share their personal and professional experiences creating solutions to these issues in their communities.

From Challenges to Celebrations: How Community Collaboration Serves Junior High Youth


Thursday, June 20, 2019
12 p.m. – 1 p.m. CDT

The junior high years are hard enough as it is, and, in many communities, that stress is compounded by the effects of poverty, violence, and inequality. Many organizations and congregations working with youth are trying to build a program and culture that prepares kids to take the needed steps in education and in life that leads to a healthy, thriving career in adulthood.

During this Community Conversation, we will focus on the work of our partner, River City (R CITY) Community Development Center, and how they are building a path from cradle to career, particularly for junior high youth in Chicago’s West Humboldt Park neighborhood. Amidst the pressure of violence/gangs, academic struggles, and how poverty impacts family and neighborhood community, R CITY calls out the truth of who these youth are as children of God and supports them in each challenge. Learn about R CITY’s partnership with Y’Shanda Young-Rivera from Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., as she walked alongside a cohort of R CITY junior high youth during three turbulent, but important years.

Be part of the Community Conversation to learn more about:

  • Developing learners and leaders
  • Providing balance: protective factors for risk; supports for challenges
  • Building a multi-faceted, collaborative approach to youth programming



Elizabeth Galik

Executive Director, River City Community Development Center
Chicago, Ill.

Elizabeth Galik serves as executive director of River City Community Development Center, Chicago, Ill., a nonprofit advancing a new model for building a path from cradle to college. Her nonprofit experience began in 2006, opening a small computer lab in Chicago’s west Humboldt Park community and growing it to serve hundreds annually with education, apprenticeships, and employment services. Prior to that, Elizabeth taught at Bethel Lutheran School, Chicago. She is a graduate of Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Ind. Elizabeth and her husband live with their four young children and goddaughter in the neighborhood they serve and have opened their home as guardians for more than 25 children through the Safe Families for Children movement.


Y’Shanda Young-Rivera

Ph.D. Candidate, Learning Sciences
Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.

Y’Shanda Young-Rivera is slated to graduate in June 2019 from Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., with her Ph.D. in Learning Sciences. She is also a state-certified teacher and administrator who holds an M.Ed. from Loyola University, Chicago, Ill., and has over 25 years of experience researching, teaching, training, designing, and facilitating professional development in secular and faith-based organizations. Y’Shanda has several written publications on literacy and has given multiple presentations and keynote speeches on topics that include literacy, adolescents, and cultural competency. A native Chicagoan, she is often involved in multiple efforts throughout the city to improve not only education, but spiritual and cultural relationships across multiple people groups.

This conversation will be facilitated by Joanne Otte, Director of Programs, We Raise Foundation.

Past Conversations

Our first Community Conversation was held on June 13, 2018 and featured Ms. Onie Riley, Lawndale Christian Legal Center, Chicago, Ill., and Dr. Heath Carter, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Ind., who discussed the complex topic of mass incarceration.

Onie and Heath shared history, stories, and information about an innovative new approach to address this brokenness through the lens of the North Lawndale neighborhood in Chicago.

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