One of Chicago’s largest social service agencies is spearheading a multimillion-dollar effort aimed at offering a part-time job and additional support to men who are driving the city’s epidemic of gun violence. Those most at risk for violence are being offered jobs and are required to attend group therapy.
One of Chicago’s largest social service agencies is spearheading a multimillion-dollar effort aimed at offering a part-time job and additional support to men who are driving the city’s epidemic of gun violence, the Chicago Tribune reports. The program, run by Heartland Alliance, is seeking those most at risk for violence — perpetrators and victims alike — with the help of data analysts at the University of Chicago Crime and Poverty labs who crunch Chicago police data. Seasoned gang outreach workers attempt to persuade them to take on the responsibility of working part-time jobs paying $11 an hour that can range from cleaning up debris in city lots to serving lunch to athletes competing at the Special Olympics Chicago. A team of social workers, case managers and jobs coaches then tries to keep them on a productive path.
Participants are required to attend three group therapy sessions each week to discuss how to deal with a host of issues from anger and addiction to stress and personal trauma they’ve been through. The ambitious program comes at a hefty cost. Officially called the Rapid Employment and Development Initiative, it is projected to cost $32 million in its first two years alone. The effort is backed by the city’s largest philanthropic organizations and corporations. It’s a risky, new frontier in Chicago’s fight against violence. The targets — generally in their 20s, the high-crime years as one expert put it — weren’t looking for a helping hand. With their criminal records, they’re not an especially sympathetic group.