Umoja Student Development Corporation
Umoja uses circles in a variety of contexts, both in our on-the-ground work and in professional development. Umoja operates peace rooms in several Chicago Public Schools where our RJ Specialists support students” and school staffs” various community building and restorative needs through a variety of circles. Additionally, Umoja supports social and emotional learning courses throughout CPS in which circles play an important community building and healing role. Our professional development modules teach circle skills explicitly and also employ circles to process critical information and develop group dynamics. We also practice what we preach, using circles internally to meet a variety of social and emotional needs of our organizational community.
In our direct service work, Umoja staff facilitates (and supports school-based staff to facilitate) peace circles, community building circles, healing circles, suspension re-entry circles, celebration circles, academic check in circles, and circles about a host of other relevant topics. Professional development offerings train participants in principles of community building circles, peace circles in a school context, and celebration/reflection circles. Recent internal staff circles have integrated topics such as maternity leave/pregnancy, weddings, staff transitions, and workplace trauma.
We work primarily with Chicago Public High Schools as partners in restorative justice and social emotional learning. Our core partner schools house RJ Specialists who operate a peace room and/or SEL Specialists who facilitate our Seminar curriculum which includes circles. We also provide professional development and consulting to schools and community organizations outside of Chicago.
Areas of Interest and Service
Umoja equips young people to succeed in college and confidently claim their future. We do this by building a web of dynamic relationships that brings together schools, families and community partners to bridge the gap between the talents and ambitions of low-income youth and the resources they need to thrive. Umoja believes that education is the great equalizer. If we as a community are serious about Chicago standing as a competitive global city, then we must be equally serious about educating each and every one of our young people in every Chicago neighborhood.
Umoja Student Development Corporation, based in Chicago, Illinois – (www.umojacorporation.org) was founded in 1997 to link the education efforts of Manley Career Academy High School (Manley) to the broader community and improve educational and personal outcomes for Manley students. Umoja demonstrates a best practice model of youth development and education by partnering with students in their growth as learners and leaders and by actively engaging them in academic achievement, community building, and leadership opportunities. We accomplish this by implementing innovative educational initiatives and cultivating relationships with schools and organizations on the West Side and throughout Chicago. While it is based at Manley, Umoja currently serves more than 8,000 Chicago Public School students and 200 teachers through partnerships with schools on the West and South sides of Chicago.