Reduce Violence in Chicago By Empowering Youth in Under-Resourced Communities to Become Men and Women of Maturity
In Chicago, one in three African American male students drops out of high school. Combine this statistic with the fact that gun violence is the leading cause of death for African American males between the ages of 15 and 24, and you have an alarming correlation — a student who drops out of high school is vulnerable to becoming more entangled with violent crime, which often leads to either incarceration, poverty, or even death.
America’s youth are facing a crisis. Twenty percent of American children live in poverty. A disturbing 1.3 million drop out of high school each year, putting them at substantial risk for chronic unemployment, substance use disorders, and incarceration. On any given day, 70,000 American youth are incarcerated. Many suffer heavily from trauma and depression from a range of issues starting at home. We are in danger of losing the potential of the next generation, especially in Chicago.
Youth Guidance created two programs that meet vulnerable youth right where they're at — in school. The programs, Becoming A Man (BAM) and Working On Womanhood (WOW), create a safe place for young adults to physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually grow and succeed through the care of a highly-trained staff member. The key to transformation is fostering a circle of trust, where vulnerability meets a caring relationship with a clinical cognitive development therapist. Through BAM and WOW, young men and women learn valuable life skills such as "ruthless self examination" and encounter questions they've never thought about before. Youth Guidance provides youth with a way out of the cycle of drugs and violence they're surrounded by, and brightens a concrete path towards self-responsibility, graduation, and future success.
Youth Guidance serves more than 11,000 students in Chicago’s schools. The boys and girls who enroll in Youth Guidance’s 's programs are 19 percent more likely to graduate on time and violent crime is reduced by 50 percent. A study from the University of Chicago found the social impact of BAM to be a return on investment of $30 for every $1 invested in the program, from the realized reductions in crime alone.