Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced an increase in funding for proven programs that will provide 2,000 additional at-risk Chicago Public School students with positive opportunities including jobs, life skill training, guidance, and safe alternatives to drugs, gangs and violence. The City currently serves about 3,500 students in these programs. These investments complement other investments by the Emanuel administration and will work together to provide safe and productive opportunities for two-thirds of the City’s at-risk youth.
“The greatest thing we can do as a city is give our children the support they need to succeed in the classroom, get jobs, and build successful and enjoyable lives,” said Mayor Emanuel. “We are investing in programs that have shown significant return on investment — they have reduced failing grades, reduced arrests, increased graduation rates, kept our youth out of gangs, and made a difference in keeping our most vulnerable children safe. With this new investment, we will have programs in place that provide additional jobs, career training and guidance to at-risk youth. I will continue to work on providing safe alternatives to reduce the risk of kids getting involved with drugs, gangs and violence.”
The new investments will total $4.5 million and will be invested in the Greencorps Chicago and Becoming A Man (B.A.M.) programs run by independent organizations. The programs will be funded from the City’s corporate budget and private fundraising.
First, an additional $2 million investment will triple the City’s funding for the successful B.A.M. (Becoming A Man™) Sports Edition program, an initiative developed and implemented by Youth Guidance and World Sport Chicago that has proven to reduce violent crime arrests by over 40 percent, increase graduation rates by approximately 10 percent, and reduce failing grades by 37 percent, according to a University of Chicago Crime Lab evaluation. This investment increases the funding for this program from $1 million to $3 million, more than tripling the number of kids who go through the program from 600 to 2000.
“With this significant investment from Mayor Emanuel, Youth Guidance’s B.A.M. program will help thousands of young men find evidence of their worth, strengthen their connection to and success in school and help build safer communities,” said Michelle Morrison, director of Youth Guidance, which runs the B.A.M. program. “We are honored to be a part of this important effort to reduce youth violence, increase school achievement and help Chicago’s young men reach their full potential.”
B.A.M. is a school-based counseling, mentoring, violence prevention and educational enrichment program that promotes social, emotional and behavioral competencies in at-risk male youth. B.A.M. – Sports Edition’s curriculum addresses six core values: integrity, accountability, self-determination, positive anger expression, visionary goal-setting and respect for women, as each value relates to personal and academic success.
Second, a $2.5 million investment in Greencorps Chicago will expand the proven program to create 600 summer jobs for at-risk students attending 15 CPS high schools. Greencorps will provide students with training and employment in urban agriculture and energy efficiency work, with many receiving year-round support.
“For nearly 20 years, Greencorps Chicago has offered job-training in horticulture and landscaping, tree care, ecological restoration, environmental health and safety, academic improvement and professional development,” said CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein. “By expanding the program, we will provide at-risk youth the resources to learn the skills they need for future employment, while benefitting the environment.”
This investment is the latest step in a series of efforts by Mayor Emanuel’s administration to identify at-risk youth and provide them with positive opportunities throughout the year. According to the University of Chicago Crime Lab, there are about 7,000 students who have missed over 40 days of school and are enrolled in schools located in a community area with a homicide rate more than twice the national average, which puts them at a greatly elevated risk for violence involvement.
When these 2,000 additional opportunities are added to the approximately 3,500 opportunities already provided for in the City’s budget, the City is now offering programming to over two-thirds of this at-risk population.
Youth across the city will continue to have access to a growing range of positive opportunities. In 2012, the City offered opportunities including after school programs, jobs, and other activities to over 200,000 participants. Mayor Emanuel intends to build upon this number in 2013.