GETTING AHEAD OF THE VIOLENCE
Street Outreach workers are just that—on the streets, reaching out to the most-at-risk men in Chicago.
Many members of the team come from the very neighborhoods where they work; they share similar backgrounds with the men they seek to support. To be successful, they must understand the complex gang rivalries of the area and the resulting impact on the community. Street Outreach workers build a real bond with at-risk men, learning their individual stories and establishing the trust necessary for dialogue.
They are on call 24/7 to reduce tensions in real time, prevent violence, and preempt retaliations.
"In every crisis, there’s a real opportunity. We have amazing young men living on the South and West side of Chicago with extraordinary potential to do good."
— Arne Duncan, Managing Partner
TAKING ACTION IN A CRISIS
Effective conflict resolution is fundamental to
everything else we do.
Mediation happens daily.
Our Street Outreach workers act fast; they’re trained to de-escalate the most heated moments. Conflict can arise between two individuals or rival groups, involving disputes that go back 40 years or just a few days; the key is to know the personal dynamics and stakes at play. Our goal is to defuse immediate tensions and help build long-term peace agreements between all parties, with the aim of creating a safer community for everyone.
"The most surprising things that I see everyday are the guys out in the streets that really want help but don't know how to get it and are scared to ask. That is why we are out in the community block by block. There is no place we won't go."
— Michael Chester, Outreach Specialist
OUR RECRUITMENT APPROACH
Over time, our team’s work creates a ripple effect that reaches the broader community.
Recruitment focuses on the most violent individuals and groups.
The young men we recruit are often in imminent danger; they can and do find themselves in active combat zones. We work on building trust with these young men to show them a way out of street life. Every recruitment process is different, but if we forge new relationships and establish strong bonds, we can help an entire neighborhood to reimagine its future.
WITH THE NEIGHBORHOOD,
FOR THE NEIGHBORHOOD
This is a big mission; community involvement is crucial. It’s the only way peace can take hold.
We work with the neighborhood on multiple levels. From long-term initiatives—like building a park or restoring public places, in partnership with community leaders—to smaller projects, like providing book bags filled with school supplies, we invest deeply in each neighborhood’s priorities.
We also walk alongside individuals to find ways to meet both immediate and enduring needs. This might mean supporting a family that’s endured a tragic loss. Or taking a new father out to buy diapers, and being there over the long haul to successfully prepare him for fatherhood.