Reaching people before violence starts means being a part of neighborhoods where violence exists and reaching out to likely victims and shooters to defuse tensions.
It doesn’t stop there for organizations that PSPC supports. Communities Partnering 4 Peace and READI Chicago use innovative methods — hiring former gang members to visit violence-involved residents in jail and at hospitals to de-escalate situations and direct them to mental health services, family aid, legal assistance, job training and GED classes.
It’s long-term, labor-intensive work, yet CP4P and READI all go beyond that threshold:
CP4P (Communities Partnering 4 Peace), a program of Metropolitan Family Services, also is professionalizing outreach work. An umbrella group of nine community organizations on the South and West Sides, CP4P runs the Metropolitan Peace Academy. This innovative program pays attention to violence-involved residents’ emotional states in total with the trauma they’ve experienced, the upheaval at home they contend with, and the unforgiving society at large. In the Peace Academy, outreach workers receive a standardized curriculum in collaboration with experts and academics to learn about de-escalation and transformation. The Peace Academy standardizes the training for street outreach workers across Chicago, will soon provide an academic credential, and provides a career ladder for people who face many barriers to legal employment.
READI Chicago, a program of the Heartland Alliance, uses its relationships with law enforcement and outreach organizations, as well as data analyzed by the University of Chicago Crime Lab to identify residents at risk of suffering or committing violence. READI Chicago recruits individuals into its program that provides social, emotional and job readiness support to place program participants in permanent, full-time jobs with private employers at a targeted starting wage of $12-$15/hour.