The Chicago Sports Alliance, the collaboration of five of Chicago's pro sports teams, announced it will move forward in 2019 to lend the teams' collective reach and resources in support of finding innovative solutions to decrease violence in the city. This is the second consecutive year of the Alliance and its contributions.
With this announcement, the Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox, operating together as the Chicago Sports Alliance, confirmed the group will donate a total of $1 million in grants to continue supporting a partnership with the University of Chicago Crime Lab and Choose to Change (C2C), which combines Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc's high-intensity mentoring and advocacy with trauma-informed therapy provided by Children's Home & Aid. New this year, the Alliance will fund the targeted transitional job training program, READI Chicago (Rapid Employment and Development Initiative).
Last year, the Alliance provided a grant earmarked for analyst training at the Chicago Police Department's Strategic Decisions Support Centers (SDSCs). In 2018, additional support fully funded the training program and SDSCs. The support created the opportunity for the Alliance to direct investments toward a new program, READI Chicago.
The Alliance maintained the approach established in its first year by relying on data and expertise from the Crime Lab to direct the group's investments toward programs and efforts structured to produce more actionable insights.
The Crime Lab, which partners with policymakers and practitioners to help cities design and test ways to reduce crime and improve lives at scale, provides data-driven recommendations to the Alliance about promising ways to reduce violence. The ongoing support from the teams will further the Crime Lab's mission of working closely with nonprofits and city government to identify and help scale the most effective ways to reduce violence and support thriving communities in Chicago.
With support from the Alliance for a second year, C2C will expand its mentoring and trauma therapy program to more participants who are most at-risk for violence involvement in the Englewood community. Support from the Alliance in 2018 allowed C2C to add a fifth group of participants, reaching 60 additional at-risk youth. Preliminary results from the Crime Lab's randomized controlled trial evaluation indicate that participation in C2C reduced violent arrests by about 50 percent.
Through the Alliance grant, READI Chicago will add more young men at highest risk of becoming involved in gun violence to participate in the 18-month program providing transitional job training and trauma-informed cognitive behavioral therapy. READI Chicago is grounded in research that suggests the promise of employment opportunities coupled with therapy and training to help participants slow down their decision-making in high-stakes situations. READI Chicago is he first program of its scope and scale ever to be implemented.
Each team also will continue to work with the grant recipients throughout the year by providing in-kind support, as well as tapping into the teams' vast networks of fans and organizational strengths to help bring awareness to the programs.
"Our thanks to [Bulls and White Sox chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] for organizing us. The Chicago Sports Alliance was his idea," said Bears chairman George H. McCaskey. "He came to us and said, 'We've got to do what we can about the gun violence that is tearing apart our city.' [The other owners] have been incredibly supportive. My hat's off to them."
"This new investment by the Chicago Sports Alliance comes at a critical time for our city. We have already lost over 480 people to gun violence this year. That is 480 too many lives cut short," said Roseanna Ander, Executive Director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab. "The expansion of these promising programs with the support of the Alliance has the potential to stop bloodshed, to support our most vulnerable, and help build a safer, more vibrant Chicago. We are proud to partner with the Sports Alliance on this work, but there is much left to be done and the stakes could not be higher."
All five teams will continue their individual charitable and community relations efforts, which donate millions in financial and in-kind support annually to hundreds of organizations and programs across the Chicagoland area.
The teams will look to continue the Chicago Sports Alliance effort on an annual basis, and decisions regarding programs that will receive future funding will be made as the effort progresses.
For more information about the partnership, please visit urbanlabs.uchicago.edu/projects/chicago-sports-alliance.