Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) has a rich tradition of being dedicated to the facilitation of healing. Through its foundational connections to Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi, its commitment to anti-racism as evidenced in the university’s Founding Congregation – the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate – and their corporate stance against racism in all its forms, and through its educational programs in the areas of nursing, radiation therapy and other health sciences, USF is dedicated to serving Joliet and the Will County area, especially in times of need. Now in these unprecedented times, USF is stepping forward to help our community heal through a series of events made possible by grant funding awarded through the Illinois Department of Human Services’ “Healing Illinois” Grant Program.

USF’s initiative, “Our Town:  Healing Joliet and Will County through Courageous Conversations”, is designed to help the Joliet region’s university to engage residents in dialogue and educational initiatives that result in community understanding and healing of racial and social inequities. “Our Town,” as emphasized by USF President Arvid C. Johnson, Ph.D., suggests that we must work collaboratively to create the type of community that is life-affirming and one that affords each person equal dignity and respect.

For more information on the following events or to learn of new, upcoming events, visit the Healing Joliet and Will County through Courageous Conversations Facebook page at facebook.com/usfhealingjolietgrant or contact USF Director of Institutional Diversity and Title IX Coordinator Allison Heard at 815-740-5025 or aheard@stfrancis.edu.

Virtual Book Discussion with Ernest Crim III, Author of Black History Saved My Life
Tuesday, January 26 | 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Event administered virtually through Zoom

Author Ernest Crim III will discuss how his viral hate crime led to an awakening. Join us for an engaging conversation to discuss how we can use these tragedies as the driving force and impetus for healing oneself and our communities. This workshop is open to everyone, with a particular emphasis on young adults and men. The first 75 attendees will receive a free, autographed copy of Black History Saved My Life. A book trailer is also available on YouTube and can be found by searching the keywords “Black History Saved My Life Ernest Crim III”.

To register for this free event, visit healingjolietandwillcounty@gmail.com. For additional information, please contact Allison Heard at 815-740-5025 or aheard@stfrancis.edu.

Healing Racism and the Urgency of Now with Troy Cicero, Consultant and Trainer, MulticultuREAL Communications, Inc.

Tuesday, February 2 |  6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Event administered virtually through Zoom

Join Troy Cicero to discuss the unique characteristics of Joliet and Will County and how we can work together in this new year to heal racism.  Troy Cicero will discuss the urgency of doing something now and the responsibility we have for contributing to that synergy of success.

To register for this free event, visit healingjolietandwillcounty@gmail.com. For additional information, please contact Allison Heard at 815-740-5025 or aheard@stfrancis.edu.

Virtual Community Book Discussion with Dr. Stacy Dewald, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
Tuesday, February 23 | 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Event administered virtually through Zoom

Dr. Stacy Dewald teaches Criminal and Social Justice at the University of St. Francis. Her research focuses on implicit bias in the Criminal Justice system and how systemic racism perpetuates the normalization of unfair practices designed to immobilize people of color. This book discussion will illuminate segregationist  policies and practices through the eyes of the book’s author, Michelle Alexander. This community discussion focuses on strategies we must develop to dismantle racism in an effort to create a societal paradigm shift. Pre-reading is not required but is strongly encouraged. The first 20 registrants will receive a copy of the book.

To register for this free event, visit healingjolietandwillcounty@gmail.com. For additional information, please contact Allison Heard at 815-740-5025 or aheard@stfrancis.edu.

About the Illinois Department of Human Services’ “Healing Illinois” Grant Program

Healing Illinois is a racial healing initiative of the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), in partnership with The Chicago Community Trust, designed to distribute $4.5 million grants to organizations across the state to begin, or continue, the work of racial healing.

The major goals of this project are to: build and advance knowledge and understanding of racial healing and racial equity in communities across the state; increase trust and relationship-building, among the residents of Illinois; provide opportunities for communities and individuals to begin to heal from the harms caused by racism, and build the foundation for long-term racial healing and anti-racism in Illinois.

For more information on the program, visit dhs.state.il.us and search “Healing Illinois Grant”.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 51,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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