Civic Innovation Fellow
Chris Rudd is a community organizer with a passion for social justice. He’s worked the past several years with gang-involved youth on the south and west sides of his native Chicago, challenging them to engage with their communities through activism and technology. As the director of the Juvenile Justice Council (JJC) at Mikva Challenge, Chris worked with 25 diverse young leaders from Cook County to research and develop recommendations to reform the county juvenile justice system. In the summer of 2013, they found that though 25,000 youth are arrested in Cook County each year, only 70 had applied for and were granted record expungement. A juvenile record can become a long-term barrier to education and employment, but Chris’s students had an idea. They developed an app called Expunge.io, which connects youth with pro bono lawyers to complete the expungement process.
Inspired by Expunge.io, the mayor of Chicago approached Chris’s students to help lobby for automatic juvenile expungement in Illinois, and they were invited to testify in front of the state senate. None of the students who testified were old enough to vote, but they knew they were helping to shape the lives and future opportunities of their peers. The bill passed.
In projects like Expunge.io, Chris has experienced first-hand the power of youth to effect change in their world. During the fellowship, he will design a program that can further bridge the gap between young people and the tech sector and allow them to create solutions to their self-identified issues. You can find Chris on Twitter at @Powere2e.