On Feb. 14, a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people. The accused, Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student at Stoneman Douglas, is believed to have legally purchased the AR-15 used to carry out the attack, despite his history of violence and mental illness. This tragedy marks the third mass shooting in the United States in the past four months. Many Americans are calling on the government to place stricter laws on background checks for gun owners, while others are calling for the banning of assault rifles altogether. As the conversation around mental illness, gun laws, and our politicians’ failure to protect American students repeats itself, here are some ways you can take action, support the victims, and end the cycle of mass shootings.
Support the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
The students of Stoneman Douglas have organized a march that will take place on March 24 in Washington, D.C., and they encourage people around the nation to organize and march in their own towns.
- Donate to the fund set up by the Broward County Education Foundation.
- Donate blood to the American Red Cross. Hospitals have requested Type O-negative blood for the victims.
- Watch Chicago Cubs’ own Anthony Rizzo speak at the vigil for his former high school.
Help make guns less accessible and our public spaces safer by joining the fight alongside one of these organizations:
- Every Town for Gun Safety represents more than 4 million mayors, moms, cops, teachers, survivors, gun owners, and everyday Americans who have come together to make their own communities safer by fighting for the changes that will save lives.
- The Courage To Fight Gun Violence was started by US Representative Gabrielle Giffords and others after she was shot during a visit with constituents at a mall in her district.
- San Francisco’s Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence offers legal assistance to people trying to make their communities safer from gun violence.
- Mom’s Demand Action For Gun Sense In America is similar to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers), and was founded in response to the Sandy Hook school shooting by one mother and quickly spread. Chapters are now in every state.
- Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence is the oldest, largest statewide organization committed to changing laws and behavior in order to reduce the devastating effect firearms have on our society.
- Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence has a goal of cutting U.S. gun deaths in half by 2025 through background checks and national discourse.
Lobby your legislators to support common sense gun reform legislation
- Here’s all you need to know about the best ways to tell Congress gun laws need to change.
- Look for your senator’s contact information here and your representative’s information here, and write to them.
- And, if you live in Illinois, here’s an easy way to reach your officials using a simple online form.
Understand your candidates’ position on gun control by using these resources:
Foster more opportunity for your city’s youth. Support or volunteer with one of the following organizations:
- Make It Better Philanthropy Award Winners are a great start: Academy For Global Citizenship, Bernie’s Book Bank, BUILD, By The Hand Club For Kids, Crushers Club, Girls In The Game, Horizons For Youth, Innovations For Learning, James B. Moran Center For Youth Advocacy, Mothers Trust Foundation, Northwestern University Settlement House, Phalen Leadership Academy, Posse Foundation, SitStayRead, Spark Program, Youth Outreach Umbrella
- The following organizations are also doing incredible work for Chicago’s youth and would greatly appreciate your time or financial support: A Better Chicago, Boys Club/Girls Club, Chicago Public Education Foundation, Evanston & North Shore YWCA, Ingenuity & the Be Creative Campaign, Invest For Kids, McGaw YMCA, YMCA of Greater Chicago
- Marin City Bridge the Gap, San Francisco Education Fund, Bay Area Mentoring, The SMART Program, YMCA of SF, Big Brothers Big Sisters Bay Area, First Exposures, Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice
Help to improve our mental health public safety net by supporting these organizations and initiatives:
- NoStigmas: This is a global peer-to-peer support network committed to eliminating the stigma that surrounds mental illness and creating more sources of mental health support.
- The Rush Hospital West Side Total Health Collaborative: Rush and other medical institutions put mental health professionals in schools on Chicago’s underserved West Side.
- Text-A-Tip Hotline: Mental health professionals respond to anonymously sent tips within minutes of receipt to help anyone suffering with mental illness. Started in collaboration with schools, clergy, public safety officials, and parents in Lake Forest, this program has spread across the Chicago region and the country.
- San Francisco Mental Health Education Funds: The SFMHEF provides services throughout San Francisco to help people suffering from mental illness.
- Mental Health Association of San Francisco: The MHASF is a nonprofit that provides mental health education, advocacy, research and services for people in San Francisco.
If you or someone you know is struggling, seek or help them seek support
- NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the U.S.’s largest grassroots mental health organization and provides many services, including a helpline and educational programs, to help people struggling with mental health in our nation.
Use Make It Better to amplify effective programs
- If you know of other effective programs, please let us know at [email protected] or call 847-256-4642.
- Tag Make It Better in your helpful posts and use #bettertogether and #makeitbetter