As students in Chicago’s communities return to school with bright smiles and colorful backpacks, we are reminded of the beauty of new beginnings. The fall air holds great promise, and I am extremely excited about the new school year!
We begin the 2016-17 academic season on the heels of a transformative summer. In June, the results of the University of Chicago Crime Lab’s evaluation of our Becoming A Man® (BAM) program were announced by national leaders at the Obama Administration’s 5th National Summit on Preventing Youth Violence in Baltimore. New findings reveal that BAM participation reduces violent crime arrests by 50% and total arrests by 35%. These results show a return of as much as $30 for each dollar invested in BAM from the reduction in crime alone. Also, in a long-term follow-up to the first BAM study (2009-10), researchers found that BAM increased on-time high school graduation rates by 19%. We are encouraged and highly motivated by this evidence base.
Reducing violence across the city continues to be a challenge. Chicago experienced record-setting levels of gun violence and a tremendous loss of life this summer, underscoring the importance of youth having access to our programs and staff during this high risk period. We are happy to have provided a number of life-affirming opportunities for our students over the summer break.
Our Project Prepare® program provided engaging workforce opportunities to more than 100 Chicago youth through partnerships with One Summer Chicago, Sprint, Ford and PPM America. We also engaged parents in Englewood and Austin in dynamic workshops using the BPROUD curriculum supported by Get IN Chicago. Thank you to our dedicated staff, parents, community partners and supporters for helping us accomplish this and set our students up for success in the year ahead.
BAM just celebrated its 15th year anniversary. This month, Working on Womanhood (WOW) celebrates five fantastic years of uplifting and supporting young girls. Across all programs, we will serve more than 8,500 students in over 80 schools. I am so proud of our in-school counselors, management teams and administrative staff who ensure that we deliver on our mission. Because of them, we are positioned to not only guide our students over any difficult terrain they may encounter this year, but also partner with others to help all Youth Guidance students realize their full potential.
It is my hope that you will find heartening and meaningful ways to become involved in the Youth Guidance experience this year. Consider actively supporting our mission by donating, volunteering or maybe even joining our anti-gun violence Strides of Peace Run/Walk Campaign on October 6th.
This year, expect more communication and engagement. Expect more collaboration and partnership. Expect even more positive youth outcomes. There is hard work in front of us, but we’ve rolled up our sleeves and we are ready. There is also so much to look forward to— more program enhancements, more youth to reach and more communities to touch.
Thank you for being a part of the YG family. We are looking forward to another stellar year!
Michelle Adler Morrison