By Esteban Diaz, Community Youth Services (CYS) Project Lead
The Community Youth Services (CYS) grant at Kenneth Young Center (KYC) focuses on engaging youth and young adults (ages 11-24) in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago. The program aims to reduce rates of youth violence and delinquency through a variety of different methods such as parent support groups, life skills training, and community engagement.
Community engagement serves as one of the most important program initiatives of the CYS grant. Partnerships with different organizations allow us to serve youth and young adults in new and unique ways. While KYC has had the opportunity to partner with a multitude of fantastic organizations, we want to take a moment to highlight a new and unique organization.
Sharing Our Stories Chicago (SOS) was founded in July 2020 by Faith Massey, Jasmin Mundi, and Parveen Mundi — three high school students from James B. Conant High School and School District 211. SOS is dedicated to providing equitable and diverse representation of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) narratives through children’s literature and other storytelling mediums.
We met with the founders of the SOS so they could tell us more about their organization and their experiences serving youth!
Hi founders! Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I am Parveen Mundi (She/Her/Hers), and I am a senior at Conant High School.
I'm Jasmin Mundi (She/Her/Hers), and I am a senior at Conant High School.
And I'm Faith Massey (She/Her/Hers), and I am a senior at Conant High School.
Who does your organization typically serve?
Sharing Our Stories seeks to connect with underserved students and diversify youth storytelling mediums. We are dedicated to serving PreK-12 students across the Greater Chicago Area, placing a special emphasis on low-income families and youth of color from underserved neighborhoods. We are also in the process of developing select programs exclusively for K-12 educators interested in diversifying their classrooms.
What motivated you all to start a not-for-profit organization?
(Parveen) I first developed the idea of a small community project providing diverse books to local community spaces in March 2020— and after months of conversations reflecting on our individual experiences, it became apparent that the concept of Sharing Our Stories as an organization was needed across the Greater Chicago Area. To aid in our vision of serving the entirety of Chicagoland, we registered Sharing Our Stories as a not-for-profit organization in July 2020.
Why did you decide on providing representation of BIPOC narratives through storytelling?
Simply put, storytelling mediums are highly accessible and enjoyable for children! Whether it be through books, video media, or other means, the storytelling of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) narratives through a variety of strategies keeps young students engaged and makes storytelling accessible for children who cannot yet read or are not yet fluent readers. Books, which are a critical storytelling medium across our programs, are essential in combating the disparity commonly known as the “million-word gap” and are relatively easier to incorporate into classroom curricula.
Thank you for sharing your story with us today! Is there any media that you would like to promote or projects that we should all keep an eye out for?
Our Instagram is @sharingourstorieschi, and we will be launching fundraisers towards our Stories Delivered Literary Aid Program during the spring of 2021. We want to see more people involved with our work, so if you're interested, don’t hesitate to reach out! Our website is sharingourstorieschi.org.
Read more from our team: