Anti-Poverty Group Helps High-Risk Victims Of Gun Violence

Craig Dellimore
June 14, 2018 - 8:10 am

Heartland Alliance


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- An anti-poverty group said it’s already having success with a program to provide jobs for people at the highest risk of gun violence, helping them and keeping the streets safer.

It’s called the READI program, for Rapid Employment and Development Initiative. Heartland Alliance President Evelyn Diaz said it provides 18-months of paid employment, therapy coaching and support services to people who have, mostly, been involved in gun violence as victims or even perpetrators.

"We are going to offer them an off-ramp, we are going to offer them the opportunity to get a job, to develop relationships with a peer group and some people who are going to support them and get them on a different life trajectory," she said. 

"And we are betting that by just doing that, that we are going to reduce shooting and homicides in Chicago's communities."

Eddie Bocanegra, director of the for Rapid Employment and Development Initiative, said the idea is to help people who are often misunderstood, and give them employment, training, coaching and counseling to start a new path.

"The job is just the carrot to the stick. It's the vehicle to bring in folks to our space, but the really two core components to what we are doing right now is engagement, but secondly is cognitive behavioral therapy," he said.

Of more than 350 people in the program, three-quarters of them are actively working and getting services.