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Save Our School Children program awarded $121,935 grant

Save Our School Children (S.O.S), a program developed by Michelle Hoy-Watkins, Psy.D. of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology’s (TCSPP) Forensic Psychology Department and designed to help at-risk youth, was awarded a $121,935 grant to be disbursed over one year by Get IN Chicago, a donor advised fund of the Chicago Community Trust. The grant was awarded because of the organization’s dedication to reducing youth violence. S.O.S. works with students in four Chicago high schools and elementary schools. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is a nonprofit university, and one of the leading institutions devoted to psychology, and related behavioral and health sciences.

Save Our School is designed for youth who have had contact with the law, or are at risk for delinquency. The program uses a three-pronged method: youth development, parent empowerment and community outreach and support. In the weekly workshops given at participating schools, students are taught skills such as self-regulation, anger management and conflict-resolution. The multi-level approach that not only engages the youth, but the parents, teachers and community as well; also imparts leadership skills, job readiness skills and helps to develop self-esteem.

“We’re honored by this recognition of our work,” said Dr. Michelle Hoy-Watkins, S.O.S. founder and TCSPP associate professor. “The grant allows us to expand the program into three additional high schools, thereby enabling us to serve more youth. The plan is to work with at least 100 more students, ages 14 to 19.”

Using developmentally appropriate and culturally relevant interventions when working with students, so they can focus on their studies and build a stronger foundation for their future, Save Our School Children’s overarching goals are to prevent youth violence and reduce recidivism.

“We have a cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) focus,” said Dr. Hoy-Watkins. “The core premise of CBT is what one thinks impacts how one feels and how one behaves. S.O.S. works to change some of the thinking to affect the feeling, and then hopefully impact the behavior in a positive way.”

“Our program has many unique features including the gender-specific interventions we employ that recognize that teen males and females feel and heal differently,” said Darlene Perry, Ph.D., The Chicago School’s Forensic Center executive director who works extensively with S.O.S.  “We train TCSPP Forensic Psychology doctoral students to work with the youth in the program using the S.O.S. curriculum.  The grant provides us with the opportunity to expose our doctoral students to meaningful, real word experiences that empower youth, and will help tremendously in making a positive impact in the lives of the youth served.  I’m appreciative to Get IN Chicago for the support.”

S.O.S. will begin serving students for the 2015-2016 school year in October.  The new schools in the program will host eight weeks of sessions, as structured by the grant, while the weekly sessions in the other participating schools will continue through June. The grant is for one year, but the goal is to gain renewal for an additional year.


About Get IN Chicago

Get IN Chicago’s mission is to identify, fund and rigorously evaluate evidence-based programs that reduce violence for youth, families, and communities in our city. As an innovative public-private partnership, the organization has a $50 million commitment to expand existing programs, coordinate and align community efforts, and measure sustainable impact to make Chicago safer. To learn more, please visit Get IN Chicago online at

About The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Founded in 1979, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCSPP) is a nonprofit, private university devoted exclusively to psychology, and related behavioral and health sciences. The university serves nearly 4,500 students across campuses in Chicago; Southern California (Los Angeles and Irvine); and Washington, D.C., as well as through online programs. The Chicago School is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission, (WSCUC), and its Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program in Chicago is accredited by the American Psychological Association. A member of the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology, TCSPP is recognized for its distinguished service and outstanding contributions to cultural diversity and advocacy. The community service initiatives on the Chicago Campus have also earned recognition on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for six consecutive years. The Los Angeles Campus gained its second recognition in 2014, and its Washington, D.C. Campus received its first award in 2014. With more than 20 graduate degree programs, thousands of hours of real-world training, and a wealth of international opportunities, TCSPP is the leader in professional psychology education. To learn more, visit




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