ICOY receives award from One Hope United for efforts to support Illinois’ youth-serving providers

Publisher: Alex Hylka

ICOY CEO Andrea Durbin Accepts One Hope United's Social and Corporate Responsibility Award

We’re excited to announce that ICOY is the recipient One Hope United’s (OHU) 2020 Chairman’s Award!

This award is given to an individual or business who has embraced philanthropy through a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative that delivers economic, social, or environmental benefits to the surrounding community. The recipient of this award is someone who embodies the One Hope United value “Empower One Another,” collaborating, and encouraging others toward greater impact.

During the Hope in Action Gala, the Chairman of OHU’s Board of Directors, RJ Young, shared, “One Hope United is proud to recognize the Illinois Collaboration on Youth, and their CEO Andrea Durbin, with the Chairman’s Award. ICOY has been a fantastic partner for many years and has helped to ensure that OHU and other child welfare and youth services have the resources we need to help young people from all backgrounds succeed.”

ICOY’s accomplishments in the youth-serving field

ICOY CEO Andrea Durbin accepted the award on behalf of ICOY at OHU’s 2020 Hope in Action Gala. Under her leadership, ICOY’s accomplishments in the field include:

  • Becoming the largest provider voice for youth-serving programs and services – advocating for legislation, policies, and practices that keep children, youth, and their families safe and healthy.

  • Spearheading an effort to ensure that human service providers were paid for the work they did during Illinois’ state budget impasse, forming the Pay Now Illinois coalition to sue Governor Bruce Rauner and state agency heads over unpaid contracts.

  • Founding Illinois’ first Medicaid Technical Assistance Center to support community-based human services providers in the transition to Medicaid managed care for behavioral health care services.

  • Representing the needs of at-risk children and youth, and the agencies that serve them, by serving on several state-level committees and workgroups.

“Now, we are leaning in more to transformational advocacy…”

You can watch a video of Andi’s acceptance speech here to learn more about ICOY’s advocacy work, how the last year has challenged us to rethink the way we use our collective voice to challenge and alter systems, and how ICOY and OHU have collaborated to benefit ALL children, youth, and their families.

Or, you can read the full speech transcript below:

Good evening! On behalf of the Illinois Collaboration on Youth, I want to thank the Board of Directors of One Hope United for this award.

Since 1964, ICOY and its antecedents have been working as a collective voice to develop and improve systems serving children, youth, and families in Illinois, and to strengthen the community-based organizations, like One Hope United, that serve them.

This past year has posed astonishing challenges for us as individuals, as members of a community, as organizations, and as an association. Responding to a world-wide pandemic and confronting systemic racism has stretched us far beyond our comfort zones, in often painful ways, and challenged us to rethink our foundational concerns for safety and security. We are reimagining ourselves and what we owe to each other to achieve a healthy society where everyone has the potential to thrive.

Sometimes that has meant that we are collaborating together to create and innovate at the speed of light, finding new ways to serve children and youth while protecting them and our workforce from exposure to a deadly disease.

Sometimes it means that we are engaging in hard conversations about the ways the systems we work in, the organizations and missions we serve, and the careers we have built for ourselves, are themselves built on systemic racism that devalues children and families of color.

One Hope United’s Chairman’s Award is a recognition for “Empowering One Another” for collaborating and encouraging others toward greater impact. I am especially fond of the word “collaboration”, not only because it is part of our name, but also because it embodies the concept of working together for a common goal. And that is what is truly needed if we are going to create a society in which Black and Brown lives matter as much as White lives do. We have to be willing to take risks, and to be vulnerable, to trust one another, and to look into our own hearts to discern how we can learn and change for the better.

And that also means changing how we advocate, and what we advocate for. As an association of community-based organizations, service to members has been a top priority, helping you to solve problems and ensuring you have the resources you need to do your work. That kind of transactional advocacy is the bread and butter of membership associations.

Now we are leaning in more to transformational advocacy and asking ourselves important questions about how we can better use our collective voice to fundamentally challenge and alter systems to better serve children, youth, and families. I’m proud to say that One Hope United and other organizations are currently engaged in a generative dialogue about how we can confront the systemic racism built into the foster care system.

Family separation – forcible family separation – has its roots in slavery. That injustice has left a legacy of trauma and suffering that continues to this day. Over the course of child welfare history in Illinois there have been significant concerns about loss of cultural identity, a continuing struggle to hire and keep a bilingual workforce, and many, many other challenges.

We know that Black children are disproportionately represented in the child welfare system, and that their outcomes are disproportionately worse. And the youth who age out of the system are far too likely to lack the tools, skills, resources, and relationships needed to be successful as adults. We must address this.

Confronting systemic racism means that we also must address the issue of who we are, as leaders and as a coalition. Who our staff and Board members are. Who the children and families we serve are.

These conversations are not easy or brief. And they must shape our advocacy going forward. I am beyond grateful to have the partnership of Charles, and Antwan, and the rest of the staff and Board of One Hope United as we forge our way together.

Thank you.

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