Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $500,000)
Launched in Fall 2017 in response to an alarming surge in shootings and homicides on Chicago’s south and west sides, the Rapid Employment and Development Initiative (READI) Chicago connects individuals who are at highest risk of gun violence involvement in Chicago’s Austin, Englewood, West Garfield Park, West Englewood, and North Lawndale neighborhoods with employment through paid transitional jobs (TJ), cognitive behavioral interventions (CBI), and supportive services. READI Chicago seeks to decrease participants’ involvement in gun violence and the justice system, help them create a viable path for better life outcomes, and help build a community-level infrastructure that promotes long-term safety and opportunity. As of May 2022, READI Chicago has enrolled 1,333 men, paid more than 10.9M in wages and stipends directly to participants, and invested $27.3M in community partner staff and capacity building in Austin, Greater Englewood, West Garfield Park, and North Lawndale.
Heartland Alliance’s Social IMPACT Research Center (IMPACT) and The University of Chicago Crime Lab and Inclusive Economy Lab are leading the research and evaluation efforts for READI Chicago. In collaboration with the University of Michigan and Cornell University, researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to determine READI’s impact on participants’ involvement in serious violence relative to the status quo, one of the largest and most rigorous studies to date of a community violence intervention (CVI) program in the United States.
As of March 2022, the data from the 20-month outcomes of the RCT evaluation of 2,500 men at acute risk of gun violence concludes that with 80-85% confidence, READI resulted in large reductions in the most severe forms of violence among men at the highest risk for violence involvement. READI participants had 63% fewer arrests and 19% fewer victimizations for shootings and homicides. These results are even stronger when looking at community referrals, where there is 95% confidence in the finding of a 79% reduction in shooting and homicide arrests and a 47% reduction in victimizations. Additionally, when we weigh the measures of serious violence by their cost to society, READI reduces that overall cost by at least $184K per participant—generating at least a 3:1 return on investment.