Our Vision for 2017 and beyond…
In 2017, the Moran Center completed “The Justice Challenge,” a transformative matching grant from the Evanston Community Foundation that provided our community of supporters with a call to action to continue our response to the challenge of justice by scaling our programs and services to “go deeper” in meeting critical, unmet needs within our community — dramatically increasing our impact.
Having successfully completed the challenge grant in the fall of 2017, we are now leveraging the success of the campaign and launching a 3-pronged strategy scale our programs and services for Evanston’s disconnected youth.
⇒ Launching school-based civil legal clinic.
According to the American Bar Association, low-income families experience on average a range of up to three legal needs per year resulting in homelessness, loss of public benefits, and/or family separation. With the goal of keeping children in school and out of institutions and institutionalized care, the Moran Center, in collaboration with other local non-profits and pro bono legal partners, aims to launch a school-based legal clinic to meet the unmet civil legal needs of the community. Plans are currently being finalized to open a legal clinic at Chute Middle School in the spring of 2018.
⇒ Improving access to much-needed mental health supports.
Approximately 72% of our clients have an identified mental health issue, yet many struggle to obtain more specialized mental health services. Our social workers and attorneys often intervene to help families navigate the complex maze of obtaining such care, but we see a greater unmet need, and plan to formalize and expand our efforts by creating linkages to local mental health care providers. We will partner with organizations such as Erie Family Health Center, Northwestern University’s Family Institute, Rush Neurobehavioral Center, as well as pro-bono mental health professionals, to get children the help they need to succeed. By 2018, we aim to launch the Access to Mental Health Supports Initiative as an additional disruptor of the school-to-prison pipeline.
⇒ Advocating for critical systemic reforms.
We will continue serving as advocates within the state legislature and administrative systems to enhance the rights and opportunities for the children and families that we support. The Moran Center will also act as a vocal advocate in supporting the establishment of the North Lawndale Community Restorative Justice Court, which will launch in March 2017. The court will hear nonviolent felony and misdemeanor cases involving young adults (ages 18-26) in the North Lawndale neighborhood. The restorative justice concept allows young offenders to take accountability for their actions and work to repair harm done through restitution, community services, letters of apology, and peace circles. We hope that the Moran Center will then be well-positioned, following a successful launch in North Lawndale, to host a restorative justice court in Evanston.