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PeacePlayers Chicago engages youth in the Roseland/Pullman community, located on the far south side of Chicago.

A once very thriving community, now faces many challenges, such as gun violence, bullying, poverty, school and gang violence, lack of adult supervision, racial disparities in healthcare and education, unsafe housing, and a lack of jobs and resources for young people.

These disparities have fueled cultural divides among youth living in this community. PeacePlayers Chicago’s intentional programming focuses on positive youth development through the fostering of healthy relationships and by providing the support needed for youth to discover their inner leader.

Our Programming

PeacePlayers Chicago, within a nationwide network, engages nearly 50 youth, ages 8-18, in year-round and multi-year basketball training, conflict resolution education and leadership development activities. Programs are divided as follows:

PeacePlayers Chicago Peace League

Peace
League

Peace League provides a safe space and gives participants a chance to have fun and develop skills. 

PeacePlayers Chicago Leadership Development Program

Leadership Development Program

In the Leadership Development Program, we focus on leadership skills, hard and soft skills development and building deeper relationships. 

Our Impact

Leadership Development Program
“I’ve learned leadership skills and to be open minded about everything. My most memorable moment was the time when we were playing a 5 on 5 and Coach Johnson sat me down because of my attitude and from that day on I realized PeacePlayers is bigger than basketball -, it’s a family, an organization trying to bring better things to not only Roseland but the city of Chicago.”
- Walter Boyd III
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Our Team

Ben Vasquez PeacePlayers Chicago

Ben Vazquez

Director, PeacePlayers Chicago

Location: Chicago
Email: bvazquez@peaceplayers.org

Benjamin Vazquez led various projects focusing on community development to identify assets that contribute to positive community growth. Benjamin assisted in developing the creative arts charter school, Art in Motion, which serves 7th-12th grade students in Chicago’s Greater Grand Crossing community. He also helped implement a partnership network on the southside of Chicago that consisted of 28 community business partners that helped launch the Chatham Center Chicago and The Chance Center, a community center that focuses on workforce, housing & economic development in the southside of Chicago. He also founded Urban Mission Chicago, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing scholarship opportunities to youth of color that reside in economically marginalized communities to travel abroad and immerse themselves in cross-cultural learning and engagement.

 

Previously to his role at PeacePlayers, Benjamin worked as Director of Social Enterprise. He was the consultative and technical lead on market analysis, research, program design, and business development projects for Covenant Enterprises based out of Chicago. He supported the development and helped launch collaborative social enterprises that engaged in broad issues of poverty and economic injustice in the US. 

 

Benjamin earned his Master’s in theological studies and a certificate in Urban Studies & Intercultural Dialogue from North Park University, Chicago, IL, and his BA in business management from Bryant & Stratton College.  

Benjamin is a diehard Chicago Bulls fan! He thought you should know.

Andrea Johnson, PeacePlayers United States

Andrea Johnson

Senior Program Manager, PeacePlayers Chicago

Location: Chicago
Email: ajohnson@peaceplayers.org

Andrea Johnson joined PeacePlayers in the spring of 2018 as operations manager in Chicago. A native of Chicago, grew up on the southside and attended academic and basketball powerhouse, Whitney Young Magnet High School. After high school, she continued her education and basketball career at Palm Beach Junior College in Florida. Her first year at Palm Beach, the team finished 7th nationally in the NJCAA championship and 3rd her second year. After earning her Associates of Arts degree, she decided to return home to attend the University of Illinois-Chicago, where she finished her playing career and earned a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology.

 

Andrea found a new love for basketball as a coach. She was asked to join the coaching staff at her alma mater, the University of Illinois Chicago, where she coached 5 years. During her time at UIC, she was asked to volunteer working with at-risk kids at a local elementary school in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago. This is where she learned the value in teaching kids life skills through sports. After 5 years at UIC, Andrea was offered a coaching position at Northwestern University, where she continued coaching for another 5 years.

 

Andrea then made the difficult decision to leave the world of coaching, to start a new career. In 2005, she landed a job at Nike INC, as an EKIN (tech rep/Brand ambassador). This job led to a 12 here career at Nike in various marketing positions. Andrea truly enjoyed her time working at Nike, which she considered her “dream job” coming out of college. She learned so much and grew personally and professionally during her time there. At Nike, she was able to work on basketball projects as well as working with at-risk kids from low income and underserved neighborhoods.

 

Andrea is so happy to join the PeacePlayers team and excited to get back to doing the two things she is most passionate about; coaching and helping kids reach their full potential.  Andrea has seen first hand how the game of basketball can inspire kids, teach them life lessons, and ultimately change their lives

Our Coaches

Rodeny Harris

Steven Harris

Coach Tamara
Nike Community Ambassador

Coach Tahj
Nike Community Ambassador

Our LOCAL Partners

Chicago Park District

Chicago park district

Palmer Park

CICS Prairie

Pullman Community Center

Pullman Community Center

Pullman Community Center

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