Intervention groups get funding injection to fight Chicago violence

Dozens of anti-violence advocates, street outreach workers and other community figureheads gathered Monday on the West Side to announce a new injection of hundreds of millions of dollars that will be used to fund community violence-intervention methods.

“It is our collective goal to make CVI a permanent feature for Chicago public-safety strategy,” Jorge Matos, a director at the Chicago organization Create Real Economic Destiny or CRED, said Monday. “Police can’t do it alone. They can’t do what we do, and we can’t do what they do. But when we do our jobs and we do it our way we can save lives and make Chicago a safer place.”

The funds will be drawn from a few sources: Members of the city’s business and philanthropic circles have pledged to raise $100 million to support the effort, while the Illinois legislature earlier this year passed a budget that will provide more than $170 million for community violence intervention. Almost $50 million more comes from the city and county.

“We’re in a really unique moment in Chicago’s history,” Teny Gross, CEO of the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago, told those gathered. “Our society, for 40, 50 years, really relied on law enforcement. And we’re now building civilian architectures and we have a role to play.”

The money will go to organizations in the Austin, Humboldt Park, Little Village and East and West Garfield Park neighborhoods as they “scale up” services for those at the highest risk of being shot or shooting someone else. Those services include outreach, life coaching, trauma treatment, education and job training.

Yolanda Fields, executive director of Breakthrough in Garfield Park, said 10% of the neighborhood’s nearly 37,000 residents are “at the highest risk of violence.”

“That number’s too high,” Fields said. “We believe every individual deserves to live in a safe environment free from the fear of and impact of violence.”

Monday’s news conference came after a violent weekend in Chicago. According to police, six people were shot to death in the city between Friday and Sunday, while another 39 people were shot and wounded.

Among those killed was a 13-year-old boy fatally shot Friday night in North Lawndale. A mass shooting in Humboldt Park — about two miles from where Monday’s announcement was held — left five people wounded just after midnight Monday.

Jorge Matos, Director of Scaling CVI for a Safer Chicago, gives a peace sign after speaking during a Community violence intervention press conference at Institute for Nonviolence Chicago, June 17, 2024. (Eileen T. Meslar/Chicago Tribune)
Jorge Matos, director of Scaling CVI for a Safer Chicago, gives a peace sign after speaking during a community violence-intervention news conference at Institute for Nonviolence Chicago, June 17, 2024. (Eileen T. Meslar/Chicago Tribune)

Several of the outreach workers present at Monday’s news conference were at that crime scene less than 12 hours earlier.

“This team right here, this amazing team of outreach workers, case managers, are the ones that are boots on the ground (and are) able to bring to our attention what we need in (a) community and what the community stakeholders need,” Jose Pizarro, director of safe streets for the Alliance of Local Service Organizations, said Monday.

Jalon Arthur, director of strategic initiatives at Chicago CRED, said neighborhoods where CRED peacekeepers are deployed have seen substantive declines in gun violence so far this year. Citywide, homicides and nonfatal shootings are both down by at least 10% in 2024 compared to 2023, but the summer months often see spikes of violence, especially in July and August.

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