Community StoriesCategory

How a Chicago nonprofit is guiding young people away from gun violence 

ADT Safe Places partner Chicago CRED creates safer streets, one person at a time 

3 min read

Participants in the Chicago CRED program work on job skills at the nonprofit's workforce development center.

Inside a nondescript room in an industrial area of Chicago, about 25 young adults, mostly Black men, start their day by sharing a verbal affirmation and how they feel on a scale of one to 10. Much of the group is at a 10 or close to a 10, indicating they are in a positive place.  

The meeting is a morning check-in at the safe, accepting environment of Chicago CRED, a nonprofit organization focused on helping Chicago’s youth and young adults trade a life of street violence for one with education, purpose and positive support. 

ADT recently donated $100,000 to Chicago CRED’s mission to make the city’s south and westside neighborhoods safer and more secure. The money will help fund the organization’s existing programs. 

Chicago CRED: Create Real Economic Destiny 

Chicago CRED was founded in 2016 by Arne Duncan, a former U.S. Secretary of Education in the Obama administration and former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, and Laurene Powell Jobs, the founder and president of a social impact organization. Duncan, a Chicagoan, has a personal connection to the violence that plagues his hometown.  

“Gun violence is not unique to Chicago, but it is uniquely bad,” Duncan says. “We are six times more violent than New York. We're three to four times more violent than L.A. We're the third largest city. And for me, you know, for all of us who love our city and grew up here, our children deserve something so much better.” 

Click to hear more about ADT Safe Places partner Chicago CRED, a nonprofit working to reduce gun violence in Chicago through direct outreach.

Chicago CRED’s approach to improving the lives of Chicago’s youth focuses on street outreach, therapy, life coaching, education and job training.  

Street outreach teams familiarize young people with the program. They foster relationships and build trust over time, connecting with people individually and showing that gangs and gun violence aren’t their only options for the future.

“Everyone has an outreach worker who basically recruits them in,” says Duncan. “They have a life coach, a clinician, an educator and the ability to develop employment training.”   

Anthony Erskin completed two years in the Chicago CRED program before graduating. He says a friend got him involved. Thanks to the support he received, he was able to earn his high school diploma and enroll in barber school.  

“My communication skills got better and I made new friends,” Erskin said. “I wouldn’t be where I am without Chicago CRED.” 

A participant in the Chicago CRED program works on job skills at the nonprofit's workforce development center.

Chicago CRED’s workforce development center, on the city’s southwest side, is filled with program participants showing off their creativity, learning new skills and gaining confidence.  

“They’re learning how to use different machines, but also learning how to manage their emotions,” says LaQuay Boone, Chicago CRED’s Senior Manager of Employment Services. “They learn how you manage frustration or irritation. But they’re also being taught teamwork and collaboration and critical thinking.”  

Boone says the workforce development center also helps participants improve soft skills like interviewing and builds their self-confidence to make them more career-ready.

ADT Safe Places Partnership 

Chicago CRED is privately supported and doesn’t rely on public funding, Duncan says. “ADT’s support is extraordinarily helpful,” he says. “There are so many more people out there who don't just need these services, but want them. And so the support from ADT will help us deepen our program, serve more and continue to build the model to show what’s possible.”  

ADT’s Safe Places Program aims to create safer, smarter and more sustainable communities. Click here to learn more about our community involvement.