RISE Chicago has been hard at work during the pandemic. We’ve been hard at work building our team and “racing” to help Chicago’s youth by joining the Strides for Peace Race Against Gun Violence, this past week for a virtual walk or run. 

During these unprecedented times, we’re learning to work smarter and faster to help Chicago become a better place. We’ve seen a growing empathy and an awakening of our youth to get involved with their communities! We’re so proud to see this unexpected result of the pandemic.  

In an effort to keep students, families, and teachers safe, Chicago Public Schools has started the 2020-21 school year in entirely virtual classrooms. In turn, we’ve pivoted our programs to follow the new policy guidelines and moved our after-school mentoring program to Google Meet spaces in order to adjust to the new remote learning environment.  

Last year was a time of significant growth and movement for the RISE team. Our leadership board grew from six to nine members. The inaugural class of five mentors reached 23 students during two in-person events throughout the fall semester. After schools closed in March, we continued to hold virtual interviews and onboard a new class of mentors set to join our program in the Fall of 2020. We are excited to welcome a new class of 13 mentors and 30 students, nearly doubling the impact for youth and furthering our mission in Chicago. 

We recognize how critical personal time spent with a mentor is to our students’ success. This year, we plan to support students through a cohort model that places multiple mentors in small groups of three or four. This allows for mentors and mentees to collaborate, while also maintaining an opportunity for the personal attention that our youth need and deserve.  

We plan to continue to create virtual opportunities until it is deemed safe for mentors and students to interact in-person again. We’re excited to launch a new program year this fall with more mentors and students to drive impact in Chicago and help our youth thrive. 

If you feel inspired by the mission of Guitars Over Guns but don’t identify as a professional musician – the RISE board is an opportunity to change our city for the better. By donating $25 a month, you contribute to academic support for our graduates, exposure to cultural experiences and a continued commitment to mentoring that is unique to Guitars Over Guns. A little goes a long way, so please consider a donation to help us continue to grow the RISE community. Donate here.

In addition, there are multiple ways to get involved with Guitars Over Guns RISE so we encourage you to reach out to board President, Shelley Gupta (shelley@guitarsoverguns.org)! We accept in-kind donations such as venue space, food and beverage for events, goods or gifts, and much more. We appreciate your help!

Guitars Over Guns shout out to Brian S. Boros, Communications Chair at RISE Chicago for providing this update.