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Grantee Spotlight: Ruby Ruiz of Communities United/VOYCE

By Andrus Family Fund on June 25, 2019

A space to build youth power and ignite movements

*This was recorded/written prior to the passage of the HB 2084 bill in the Illinois State Senate, which will increase mental health resources in schools.


I am Ruby Ruiz, an organizer with Communities United and VOYCE.

I am my cousin…who is on his third strike and is locked in a cage, but is waiting on me to send him a dictionary so he can expand his knowledge.  

I am my mother who is a sexual violence survivor. 

I am my brother who lost his life to a fight with depression.

I am one of the many faces behind a movement to change the notion that in order to be safe, we need to have metal detectors and more police officers in our schools and communities.

Today our communities are fighting back against that notion. We know first-hand the repercussions of combating poverty with a baton instead of job, to address trauma and drug addiction with handcuffs and overcrowded jails rather than therapy and rehab. 

What safety means to our communities is that our brothers and sisters have someone to talk to if they are experiencing trauma or abuse.  Safety means that we can walk the hallways knowing that people do not see us as criminals, but as people with value.

This issue is very personal to me, just as it is to the students and survivors that stood in front of a room full of cameras in February as we launched the Rethinking Safety Campaign. Our goal is to create safer and healthier schools and communities through investments in mental health, and shifting resources from the criminalization of poverty to jobs and mental health. Most importantly, our goal is to challenge traditional thinking on what it means to be safe. 

I am proud to say that in the coming week, over 300 young people will fill the halls of the Illinois State Capitol calling on policymakers to take action on our vision for change. We hope you will join our movement.