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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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Upcoming events

Our Team

Sanura Young Chicago Director

Sanura Young

Director, PeacePlayers Chicago

Location: Chicago
Email: syoung@peaceplayers.org

As a dedicated social impact leader, Sanura is fueled by a resolute vision and a compelling sense of mission. Focused on innovative, visionary, and strategic approaches to driving positive change, she excels at inspiring tangible action toward lasting progress.

 

Sanura’s leadership is distinguished by a commitment to the intersection of strategy, profitability, and social good. With an extensive background spanning over 20 years in the nonprofit and government sectors, Sanura is unwavering in her dedication to advancing equity and fostering access and opportunity for underinvested communities.

 

Her expertise lies in collaborative client engagement to identify and achieve targeted business goals, the implementation of innovative strategies driving organizational success, securing philanthropic support for strategic initiatives, and effective management of community activities. Sanura is particularly adept at driving human resources planning, evaluating program effectiveness, and adeptly addressing board relations issues.

 

Throughout her dynamic career, Sanura has assumed various roles, including entrepreneur, nonprofit executive, fundraiser, and civil servant. Sanura, a mother of three D1 collegiate athletes, holds a steadfast belief in the transformative power of sports to unite communities. She champions the profound lessons instilled by sports, emphasizing values such as leadership, good health, teamwork, fair play, self-reliance, and the commitment to continuous improvement.

 

Sanura is highly skilled in launching start-ups, crafting compelling narratives, and elevating brand awareness. She boasts a proven track record of remarkable results, such as increasing income by 542% through effective development strategies and annually raising $600,000 for the Tuskegee Next Foundation, supporting at-risk youth in aviation education and career development. Additionally, she played a pivotal role in establishing the Jewish Black Business Alliance, fostering positive business relationships, and bridging cultural gaps between the black and Jewish communities.

 

Educationally, Sanura holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Economics from Benedictine University and a Master of Business Administration from Aurora University. Actively involved in the community, she serves as a board member of the Daisie Foundation and is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Chicago Women in Philanthropy, and the Links, Incorporated. At her core, Sanura is driven by a passion for creating equitable solutions, access, and opportunity for communities to thrive.

David Smith

David Smith

Program Coordinator, PeacePlayers Chicago

Location: Chicago
Email: dsmith@peaceplayers.org

“I remember my first basketball camp as a coach. I was 16 years old, it was at Wheaton College hosted by CURE, The Chicago Urban Reconciliation Enterprise, and The Fellowship of Christian athletes. The camp was a week long stay on the Wheaton College campus. We partnered with an organization from Englewood Chicago and it was one of the several most impactful experiences of my life. 

 

The training I received prior to the camp was minimal but very valuable. More importantly, to me, I was an athlete and I knew what style of coaching I responded better to and that is how I approached the youth I was trusted with. As I got to know my team over the week and I learned that I had the privilege of training the younger versions of myself. These 9-12 year olds had experienced the same trauma I had and had the nearly identical journeys to adolescence as I did. Whether it was domestic, learning challenges or cultural stigmas, we were the same kids living different lives and the opportunity I had was to help these youth understand the game of basketball, train them in the better character of the game and encourage them to work on their game everyday and make good life choices. And I promised them I would be there every summer to be their coach.”

 

I grew up in the Abbott Homes of Chicago. At that time my entire family lived in different projects housing around the city of Chicago—Cabrini Greens, Altgeld Gardens, Lathrop Homes, Jane Addams Housing and Circle Park. I later learned it wasn’t because we were poor, it was because my grandmother was very active in providing community services through her church, she was an activist and the family supported her in everything she did so we stayed close until she was unable to serve.

 

Back then we played basketball on the monkey bars because we didn’t have basketball rims on the courts because the parks were to dangerous play in. We eventually got creative and used crates and bike rims and attached them to wood for a backboard, nailed it to a tree or a 2×4 and had someone hold it while we shot the ball and it was the worst because the target was always moving. 

 

My uncle played for the Chicago Bulls in the 70’s and I grew up going to watch him, my dad and their friends play. I remember the ball hardly ever touching the ground, non-stop running, they hardly ever missed shots, everyone called their shots, no one made calls, no one called fouls, fouls were only given, you pretty much only heard screeching shoes and players calling out screens. THAT’S THE GAME I FELL IN LOVE WITH. I literally never dribbled the ball when I started playing because I thought you were only supposed to pass and shoot.

 

As I grew up I became pretty good at the game but I also wanted to go my own way and rebel against the rules of my parents household. With many opportunities to play at a higher level I was determined to live a street lifestyle and that was my pursuit.

 

At the age of 46, I am a father of three and married to my high school sweetheart of 23 years. I am still very active in basketball leagues of all ages and it has been the greatest blessing to play the sport with my now 20 year old son. I am also a huge volleyball fan. I play that regularly too.

 

 Pre-COVID, my family and I had a very active faith-based charity named Flirt w/ Life where through a partnership with Chicago Public Schools, City Colleges, DePaul University, we hosted an awesome mentoring opportunity for youth, high school and pre-professionals at the infamous Gold Coast Dave & Busters in Chicago. We also host a motorcycle safety and awareness initiative where we partner with the City of Chicago, the Chicago Police Department, and several other State ran motorcycle licensing and training entities to encourage riders to take free State ran training courses. Through our great partnerships we also co-host a series of other awesome events.

 

I am also a the proprietor of a transportation and logistics entity.

 

I am a firm believer in entrepreneurship, education and mentoring.

 

With all the gifts, talents and passion in me, I am honored to be apart of the awesome initiatives to encourage our communities live out the core-values at PeacePlayers and to serve the city I love the most.

Our Coaches

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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