ROGERS PARK — The Moran Center for Youth Advocacy, an Evanston-based nonprofit providing legal and social work services for children and families, is now offering services in Rogers Park.
The Moran Center offers services to help children and families from falling into the criminal justice system. It began branching out into Rogers Park about a year ago through Equal Justice Works, a program that offers two-year legal fellowships to recent law graduates so they can work with groups to provide legal services.
“There’s no brick wall down Howard,” said Patrick Keenan-Devlin, the center’s executive director. “There’s so much connection between” Evanston and Rogers Park.
The center’s work in Rogers Park focuses on education advocacy and restorative justice. Through Equal Justice Works, its fellows and staffers provide support, advocacy, legal information and representation for residents who need support navigating the education system, said Andy Froerich, who is spearheading the program and is an Equal Justice Works fellow and education attorney with the Moran Center.
“If a student is facing some sort of exclusionary discipline, being suspended, expelled … we can provide information, support, advocacy, representation,” Froerich said. “It really is mainly supporting parents who have students that are diverse learners, who are struggling in school and need different services.”
Expanding into Rogers Park has been a three-step process: community outreach, providing resources to parents and students and offering direct legal representation, Froerich said.
“At a really local level, our work is all about deconstructing the school-to-prison pipeline that excludes children from their schools and proper educational resources,” Froerich said. “It’s helping parents navigate a really complicated education system — that doesn’t just exist in Chicago but … can be really daunting and intimidating.”
The group’s first six months in Rogers Park focused on community outreach, Froerich said. That meant developing relationships with local nonprofits, schools, school councils and other groups.
“A big part of the work is getting to know the community,” Froerich said. “We’ve been able to connect and start building relations with dozens of community organizations, connected with all the schools in some way or another.”
Sullivan High School has been particularly welcoming for the Moran Center, Froerich said.
The center has also partnered with Circles and Ciphers, a hip-hop-infused restorative justice organization, and Chicago Public Schools’ Parent University, which is a parent engagement program to promote partnerships among parents, schools and communities.
It has also held programs around the neighborhood, including Know Your Rights sessions with the Rogers Park Library for parents and students.
“That’s a huge part of what this project is,” said Froerich. “How parents can be advocates for their kids and how that can hold schools accountable.”
The third and final step, which has been the slowest but is beginning to take off, is providing direct representation for students and parents in the neighborhood, Froerich said.
“We’re getting a lot more calls once families start finding out that we’re available,” he said.
Those interested can call the Moran Center at 847-492-1410. You can also reach Andy Froerich directly via email at [email protected] or by phone at 224-420-7711.
The Moran Center is hosting a gala 5:30-9 pm Sept. 8 at Ignite Gaming Lounge, 8125 Skokie Blvd in Skokie. The gala’s theme is “Justice Heals,” and it represents the center’s “vision of a more just, racially equitable and restorative society.”
There will be entertainment, a silent auction and special guest speakers. Tickets starting at $250 are available on line.
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