Violence is still the number one societal problem in Chicago and in 2016 the number of murders reached a 19-year high. Centered in a handful of communities on the South and West Sides, 762 people died violent deaths last year, more than 10 times the number collectively killed in Columbine, Fort Hood, Aurora and Sandy Hook!


Dear Partners in Reducing Youth Violence,

Quite simply, it is unacceptable that we have a world-class city that is dangerous and unlivable for so many fellow Chicagoans. In “The City That Works,” many organizations are focused on fixing this deeply embedded problem, including Get IN Chicago. We formed Get IN Chicago four years ago to create a privately funded, non-political approach to finding innovative solutions for existing non-profit and government programs.  We built this from the ground up with a desire to make a difference and the singular mission of building a better Chicago. Many people have contributed to the progress made by Get IN Chicago, from those providing funding or services to those who have helped build the intellectual capacity to find a sustainable answer to this vexing problem. Thank you!

As we have discussed in our prior updates, what a ride this has been! Get IN Chicago’s work really began to take hold in 2016, and there are important learnings and innovations that are making a difference.

First, we learned that more resources need to be focused on acutely high-risk youth, a definition developed by Get IN Chicago. These overwhelmingly are young men who have experienced violence, have a parent who is or has been in jail, have had multiple experiences with the juvenile justice system and are chronically truant, if they are in school at all. These are not today’s shooters, but they will grow into them if we do not intervene. The challenge is they are hard to engage and harder to help. Highly effective school-based programs are not serving these young men since they are often absent. In addition, many of the programs are not intense enough. In medical terms, the “dosage” of many mentoring and therapy programs is too low to help acutely high-risk youth.

Second, just as we have underinvested in many of these neighborhoods, community-based organizations have been working without infrastructure support in a market where demand is accelerating and far exceeds supply. Existing social service and non-profit agencies do not have cutting edge capabilities or the capacity to handle the number of acutely high-risk youth in Chicago.

As a result, we have funded two new initiatives to address these issues. We shifted some funding from direct services for at-risk youth to build capabilities and capacity among non-profits. This included a wide range of capability development – from the most effective ways to mentor acutely high-risk youth to the best way to measure success.

The second initiative is creating and funding Strengthening Youth through a Network of Care or SYNC.   SYNC is an operating system where acutely high-risk youth are identified, referred to programs and provided case management services that facilitate and monitor the processes in place to shift youth away from the path of increased violence. SYNC works in alignment with public systems and obtains referrals from public defenders, juvenile courts, the Chicago Police Department and Cook County’s Juvenile Probation Department in seven neighborhoods. As part of the initiative, Metropolitan Family Services will provide a case manager for each youth for two years. The case managers will work with 11 non-profits to provide mentoring and social and emotional learning services to their clients. Other essential services will be accessed from non-Get IN Chicago funded organizations so we address all the youths’ needs.

Your belief that the capabilities and resources of the private sector can help reduce violence was correct.  Over the last four years, Get IN Chicago has provided over $33 million to 60 non-profits and helped over 10,000 youth in Chicago. Using these learnings to identify those most likely to commit violence, we have built intake and delivery systems that lead to measurable results, and helped non-profits build capabilities that will create sustainable change. The dialogue around reducing violence in Chicago is more informed, and historical practices are being openly questioned and subsequently improved.

Get IN Chicago was formed to be a catalyst for change and innovation, and it has accomplished this goal. At times, this resulted in a desire for rapid progress, conflicting alternate approaches and anxiety. Despite this, the organization and board held to its commitment to you to focus on saving lives by driving change.

The board is now considering what role Get IN Chicago should play in driving further progress in the battle to make all of Chicago’s neighborhoods more livable. It is unlikely that we will wind down the organization after five years, which was our original intent, since the magnitude of the violence problem has grown. If the SYNC system is effective and efficient, it would be worthwhile to expand it beyond the initial seven neighborhoods.  Similarly, additional investments in building capabilities and capacity of non-profits will be necessary until we can break the cycle and culture of violence.


Thank you for your continued support of Get IN Chicago.  Your generosity has made a difference!






View the full report: Get IN Chicago 2016 Report



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