University of Chicago Women's Board

The Women’s Board is proud to highlight one of our many University of Chicago Women’s Board Grants Fund projects, Building Social Capacity to Address Behavioral Health Needs and Reduce Incarceration in Underserved Chicago Communities, to which we awarded $65,616 in April 2018.

This project has been led by Associate Professor Matthew Epperson who is based at the University’s School of Social Service Administration and has worked in tandem with community leaders in two high-incarceration neighborhoods in Chicago (Austin and Washington Park), trying to see what resources and supports might already exist in those communities for folks who need substance abuse services, mental health treatment, housing, and other forms of support. Ultimately the goal of this work is to develop a social capacity measure, a tool that neighborhoods can use to identify which resources they have and which ones they still need. By building social capacity, communities can respond to their own issues rather than rely on responses from the criminal justice system.

This study represents the first effort at quantifying social capacity needs and strengths at the community level in an effort to create data that could guide the development of tailored community-level interventions designed to build social capacity and reduce the use of mass incarceration in vulnerable communities by responding to pressing community needs. To learn more about the project, be sure to check out their website here! Findings from this project will be presented at the upcoming annual conference of the American Society of Criminology, which will be held in San Francisco from November 13-16, 2019.

Click through to find out more about the conference here, and stay tuned for more Women’s Board Grants Fund status updates from former awardees!