COVID-19, the first pandemic of this century, shocked the world, holding us hostage and paralyzed by fear. As vaccines have become readily available, and we begin returning to our lives, the realities of Chicago’s pre-existing neighborhood epidemics- unemployment, mental health, drug addiction, and major crimes perpetrated by gun violence gained national attention.
The after-impacts of COVID shone a spotlight on Chicago’s persistent and raging violence that has now seeped form containment within underserved neighborhoods in the south and west sides, onto the streets of the south loop, downtown, and near north-- more economically privileged areas.
Due to increased gun violence and related crimes, conditions COVID vaccines can't suppress, H2H is pivoting to meet the needs of blighted communities by ramping up Gun Violence Prevention efforts in addition to Workforce Development.
But what does this look like?
H2H Gun Violence Prevention Strategy
BELTS ED NFP, H2H Violence Prevention (VP) strategy undertakes a multi-pronged approach: Behavioral Modification, Mental Health, Street Outreach, Workforce Development, Restorative Justice, and Case Management.
To devise and execute these impactful Violence Prevention solutions, H2H has partnered with well-experienced collaborators to leverage strengths, provide more holistic community uplifting solutions, and broaden outreach.
Behavioral Modification and Mental Health
To address gun violence as a mental health condition, the first step is to determine what mental and behavioral risk factors are likely to contribute to an individual’s tendency to react to a challenge with a gun—shoot first mentality. Understanding an individual cannot move beyond current conditions to modify their behaviors without proper familial support, H2H is leading the charge for change
H2H VP solutions begins with an intake assessment to:
- Gauge current mental and behavioral conditions, triggers and influencers,
- Determine needed wrap-around services: mental, drug abuse, housing, financial, etc.,
- Conduct Behavioral Modification training: conflict resolution, de-escalation, coping skills, etc.,
- Provide on-going support for participants and the family unit,
- Recruit for Workforce Development.
Gun violence and other crimes occurs in the streets. H2H must reach beyond classroom walls to meet the need directly where it exists—in the streets. Street outreach is also a vital recruitment tool.
H2H and collaborating Violence Interrupters will:
- Partner with local officials, law enforcement, community-based organizations, schools, faith-based organizations, and businesses,
- Host street outreach events in impacted south side neighborhoods,
- Appeal to at-risk youths (age 10+) and their impacted families to participate,
- Promote peace amongst warring factions,
- Provide Behavioral Modification training,
- Recruit for Workforce Development.
Restorative Justice (RJ) is a research-based process during which an ex-offender accepts responsibility for their actions through reconciliation and self-improvement. Inter-personal and outward acts of reconciliation helps to rebuilds the mental and structural foundations needed to move beyond current and often hapless mental states; motivating them to seek better alternatives for themselves and their families.
Based on empirical data gathered from the pilot Discovery Workshop, held for returning citizens, 100% expressed the desire to operate their own businesses— lawn care, welding, trucking, substance abuse, real estate board-up services, etc.
H2H Restorative Justice Entrepreneurial training includes:
- Soft skills,
- Financial literacy,
- Creating comprehensive business plans,
- Sourcing RJ lenders,
- Applying for start-up seed funding,
- Scaling and sustainability
- Workforce training and job placement to provide earnings during business start-up.
Workforce Development Training
Following trusted empirical studies, H2h strongly believes education and jobs are vital crime-fighting and violence prevention tools. Workforce Development training happens to be our sweet spot and the cornerstone of the H2H program. Many H2H members are actively employed or retired public school teachers or corporate learning professionals and share the passion for providing vocational training to underserved communities to level their playing fields for success.
H2H Workforce Development training provides market-based employment education beginning with personal reflections, learning and needs assessments (Discovery Workshop) and proceeds with a curriculum, including:
- Soft skills to polish rough edges for transitioning into a work environment,
- Entry-level job skills tailored to employer requisites for quicker onboarding,
- Employment coaching and counseling to build confidence,
- Resume writing and mock interviews,
- Job referral for immediate placement.
To uplift blighted communities, studies point to the need for on-going, supplemental behavioral, mental, drug addiction, health, and life-sustaining wellness support. For H2H participants who require these additional resources and other types of assistance, we will meet their needs by linking them with agencies that provide the free programs and social services that might otherwise be illusive and hard to navigate on their own.
H2H knows that when it comes to behavioral modification, violence prevention, and career achievement, along with the individual, the family nucleus often requires support during and after initial interventions. H2H services and support does not end at program completion.
H2H Case Management services includes:
- On-going support on a case-by-case basis,
- Continuous monitoring and support to remaining connected to individuals and families,
- Maintaining a bank of hiring employers,
- Providing wrap-around services: mental health, drug addiction, housing, restorative justice, etc., specialists.
The H2H Cohort Programs will bridge the gap of the unemployed, under-employed, and displaced workers from minority communities by providing job readiness and industry workforce skills. The outcomes of our educational training and workshops prepares these populations for better job opportunities and moving them into lucrative careers.
The H2H MODEL follows a socio-economic impact agenda by targeting individuals 16+ and including the unemployed, under-employed, homeless, returning citizens, LBGTQ+, asylum seekers, immigrants, and domestic violence and sex trafficking victims as participants. We are partnering with hospitality, food, transportation, retail and client servicing firms; industries highly impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns and currently facing mass hiring needs.
We are sustaining resources to continue this crucial and important work through grant funding, private donors, corporate sponsors, fundraising events, Internet solicitation (i.e., Go Fund Me), charitable foundations, investor capital and municipal funds.
H2H is partnering with restorative justice agencies, civic, faith-based, like-focused community-based organizations, business leaders, staffing firms, workforce centers and outreach services to recruit and guide participants through training cohorts in preparation for hire. We firmly believe strength is gained by sharing expertise and resources.
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