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Letter from the Executive Director

Voices from the Field:

  • Healing Hurt People - Chicago Program
  • KLEO

Inside GIC:

  • Crystal Jackson Staff Profile
  • Jessica Omana Staff Profile


  • Breaking News! GIC Hospital Collaborative Continues with Federal Funding

  • How a Baseball League Helped Improve Youth-Police Relations
  • Lisa Moultrie on Lessons Learned
  • Understanding SYNC Program Youth
October 2019

I had no idea where the road would lead when we started this Get IN Chicago journey six years ago. The difficulties with youth violence in Chicago are as persistent as inequities around poverty, affordable housing, economic development and education. Despite the segregated state of our city, reports on the violence coursing through disadvantaged communities on the south and west sides dominated national news, casting a shadow across the entire city.

Chicago is a city with so many needs and so much potential for equity. In response, many corporate leaders in the city – in collaboration with the public sector – were compelled to act. When the civic committee committed funds in 2013 to reduce youth violence, there was a feeling among many that if we just increased funding to community based programs violence would drop. Of course the media is now beginning to take notice that decades-long inequities, which create the conditions for violence to foster, cannot be mediated overnight, and the capacity, care coordination, data collection, recruitment systems, and community-based services are currently not adequate to thoughtfully engage, retain and treat the myriad needs of acutely high risk youth.

We’ve learned a lot in six years and now understand far more clearly what’s necessary to create sustainable impact. To be fair, from the beginning we were not zeroed in on the relatively small percentage of youth at greatest risk of violence within the larger filter of disadvantaged youth. To help distinguish the levels of risk, as well as the amount and duration of service needs, Get IN Chicago coined the term "acutely high risk" and introduced a risk pyramid.

The result has been a significant improvement in the way poor youth are engaged with attention to background, risk and strength factors as well as dramatic increases in engagement with court-involved youth. Informed by hundreds of site visits, individual intake assessments and evidence-informed programs, assumptions were tested, learnings were deepened and quality improved. What followed was a tremendous amount of thought leadership and an evolution from a standard grant maker with a focus on data informed programs to a far more actively engaged agent of systems change.


"We've followed an evolution from a standard grant maker with a focus on data-informed programs to a far more actively engaged agent of systems change."

Toni Irving, Ph.D.  


The road has not been straight or smooth, but we stayed on course. Being close enough to the ground to observe directly what transpired, coupled with being small and nimble enough to make crucial shifts in a timely manner, positioned Get IN Chicago to define system-wide needs and develop processes to address them. For example, we commissioned Chapin Hall to conduct organizational capacity assessments, and in response we developed best-in-class executive education, provided ongoing technical assistance, and established learning communities to build the capability of grantees.

In the aftermath, our grantee KLEO has grown in both size and impact through a reorganization of the executive team, recruiting a targeted slate of new directors, creating a multipronged development strategy and applying to and winning first place in Social Venture Partners Fast Pitch competition. The support prepared well-established community-based organizations like KLEO, Westside Health Authority, UCAN and others to join our Strengthening Youth through a Network of Care, or SYNC, initiative where we coupled core programs like mentoring with case management to coordinate the variety of service needs acutely high risk youth can accumulate living in high-stress, low-resource communities.

The SYNC pilot also brought into sharper relief the difficulty of data collection for organizations balancing so many different interests and funding sources. And more directly, SYNC highlighted the centrality of comprehensive case management for good outcomes. While programs remain important, we need a stronger system for all of them to run on - one that links them in service to the individual needs of youth and their families. To date, we have not been set up to understand impact beyond a youth’s temporal exposure to a specific program, nor have we tracked inputs and outcomes within a universally defined population segment.

The advancements notwithstanding, growth opportunities persist.

Toward that end, Get IN Chicago recently invited organizations to submit letters of interest to develop a comprehensive case management system to service acutely high risk youth and young adults. The most critical aspect of care coordination is building a system that engages key stakeholders from public systems, philanthropy and community-based organizations while making the value add for each obvious. Care coordinators focus on making the service experience low-effort, deepening relationships with youth, and improving retention. Care coordination shifts the focus to people over programs, with multiple organizations supporting an individual and sharing the credit for positive outcomes.

At the macro, our goal is public-private partnership that leads to sustainable systems change. At the micro, we expect to finally, and at scale, be able to answer basic questions about acutely high risk youth like: Who exactly fits the criteria? What does s/he need to succeed? Did they get it? Is s/he better? Strengthening Youth through a Network of Care (or SYNC) is a basic building block for brighter futures.

I am very proud of what has been accomplished over the last six years. We put our collective dollars to great use, served more than 15,000 youth and families, and have yielded remarkable results, which we look forward to sharing in a larger report that includes NORC’s findings. None of this would have been possible without the support of our evaluation partner, the MacArthur Foundation, and our many corporate donors. While our time is up in our current iteration, we look forward to having you join us on the road to more aligned service delivery and community development. As collaborations continue to grow, so too will impact. The success of our city depends upon us all getting involved, invested and in SYNC.

In service,

Toni Irving, PhD

Toni Irving and Crystal Jackson working with Sweet Water Foundation to build a garden in Englewood.


GIC Hospital Collaborative Continues with Federal Funding

Along with Healing Hurt People, the GIC-funded hospital based intervention, there are a number of Level 1 Trauma Centers in Chicago focused on patients of intentional injury — shootings, stabbings, assaults, etc. — and engaging them in the emergency department to offer services that will help turn their lives around.

Last year GIC launched a hospital working group to bring together these institutions to form a learning community focused on information exchange, best practices, common metrics and care coordination.


We are pleased to announce that NORC at the University of Chicago has been awarded a grant to continue the efforts of the Hospital Working Group.


We are pleased to announce that as a result of this work, the Office for Victims of Crime and the National Institute of Justice awarded NORC at the University of Chicago a grant to facilitate the continued collaborative efforts of the Hospital Working Group. Our ultimate goal, to form a city-wide hospital-based Victims Services Intervention in Chicago, is part of a larger goal of building the capacity necessary for the citywide care coordination of acutely high risk youth and young adults.

By enabling us to document similarities and differences, connect with other high-capability violence prevention initiatives and identify new mechanisms for working together more efficiently, the grant will facilitate significant advances in the work started by Get IN Chicago. The Hospital Working Group partnership includes University of Chicago, Advocate Health, Cook County Health, Rush University Medical Center, Sinai Health System, Michael Reese Health Trust and Northwestern Medicine.

How a Baseball League Helped Improve Youth-Police Relations
What’s one way to improve the often contentious relationship between the police and communities of color? A recent strategy that showed positive results was to bring together members of those communities and law enforcement officials through baseball.

Get IN Chicago launched its Police-Youth Baseball Leagues in 2015 with a focus on young people between the ages of 9 and 12. The goal was to give police officers a chance to build positive relationships with youth and to help those same youth overcome negative perceptions of law enforcement.

The initiative focused on younger children in the hopes that their experiences and attitudes toward police would be more malleable than their older peers. Research shows that even young children experience negative contact with the police, and that communities of color are particularly affected by those experiences.

The Englewood Police Youth Baseball League.

In Chicago, for example, African American youth are almost twice as likely to be arrested as all other youth in the city, and they are 12 times more likely to be arrested for minor crimes such as marijuana possession. When Get IN Chicago launched, 10 communities in the city (most on the south and west sides) accounted for 70% of all juvenile arrests.

All youth experienced improved self-perceptions of leadership, conflict resolution and future orientation.

Get IN Chicago conducted pre and post surveys over multiple years of the league. Data show that all youth experienced improved self-perceptions of leadership, conflict resolution and future orientation. Children between the ages of 9 and 11 experienced the largest of those gains, including the biggest jump in future orientation. And while negative perceptions about police persisted for boys and older youth, both groups showed more willingness to question those beliefs by the end of the league.

The Westside Police Youth Baseball Leagues.

According to the report on the league produced by Get IN Chicago, the findings from the initiative suggest that exposure to law enforcement officials makes a difference in mediating disempowering beliefs. Those data were reinforced by the experiences of community members and police officers participating in the program.

One participant’s grandmother told a police officer that he was the only person her grandson listened to. The impact was felt not just by the youth, but the officer. “When I showed the [young man] I cared, and I talked to him, [then] anything I asked him to do he did with no problem.So that’s what his grandmother noticed and that’s why she asked me to be a mentor.”

Read more about Get IN Chicago’s Police-Youth Baseball Leagues in “How Place-Based Approaches to Youth Violence Prevention Can Build Community Trust.”

Lisa Moultrie on Lessons Learned

Early on in her tenure as Director of Programs for Get IN Chicago, Lisa Moultrie realized that the group’s mission was going to require a different view of what it means to run a nonprofit foundation. While many foundations typically issue grants and occasionally check in with the organizations they fund, the mission of Get IN Chicago called for a much more hands-on approach.

Ms. Moultrie and her colleagues decided that to best serve the mission of reducing youth violence in Chicago, the foundation would need to take a granular approach. One of the lessons learned from Get IN Chicago, she says, is that meeting an ambitious goal like reducing youth violence requires a lot of attention to detail.

“We got into the weeds with the organizations,” she explains. “We didn’t focus only on the parameters of the program and how much money we gave, but we looked at whether those efforts were working. We always asked how we could help agenicies serve youth better and more.”

An example of that granular approach can be found in the way organizations GIC funded recruited youth to their programs. Instead of posting flyers and waiting for young people and their parents to sign up, Get IN Chicago’s program partners went into the neighborhoods looking for and engaging youth who could most benefit from their services.

“If a kid would say, ‘Yes, I’ll be part of that after-school program,’ ” Ms. Moultrie explains, “he or she probably wasn’t one of the kids who are acutely high-risk for violence (40% truant), justive involved or not in school at all. We had to work hard to go beyond the self-selectors and help our grant recipients engage the most at-risk youth.”


“We got into the weeds with the organizations.”  


Here’s a look at other lessons learned from Ms. Moultrie’s time at Get IN Chicago:

Monitor the emotional well-being of staff.

Some of the project’s mentors were being affected by working with children who had experienced direct trauma.“The work was hard on staff, in part because they got so close to the kids," Ms. Moutlrie explains. "So we made sure we encouraged self-care for mentors and therapists."

Use data to stay on track.

When tackling an ambitious goal like reducing violence among a city’s youth, data are invaluable. The organizations funded by Get IN Chicago would track and log data into Cityspan software the foundation made available. The goal was to monitor data points like how many children were served, how often, and in what ways.

Those details allowed Get IN Chicago to give monthly reports back to partners showing how much time they had spent with children relative to the recommended dosage. “They could have done a lot of this on their own, but we had a data analyst who could produce charts and visualizations to make the data easier to digest,” Ms. Moultrie says.

The data proved to be eye-opening for the organizations. “You think you’re hitting all the marks,” she says, “but you look at the data and realize that you might have missed something. Our mentors would look at data for their caseloads and they might realize that they didn’t see a youth as much as they had intended in a given month. So they could make sure they reached out to him more the next month. That’s important.”

Bring people together to strengthen partnerships.

Another big lesson learned was the importance of developing relationships among partners by bringing people together. For SYNC, Get IN Chicago held monthly meetings for the first year and bi-monthly meetings after that. “There were some really good partnerships that came out of that,” Ms. Moultrie says.

When the project was identifying ways to recruit the most at-risk youth to its programs, for example, partners from the west side of the city banded together very quickly to identify strategies to reach more children. “Having everyone in the same room together helped make that possible,” she explains.

Those meetings helped overcome a problem that most nonprofits face: making time to meet and work together to achieve a common goal. “As the convener,” Ms. Moultrie says, “Get IN Chicago made the space and the focus to help organizations work better, to share information and find ways to work together. In my future work, I will be really intentional about building partnerships.”  

Our hero GIC Youth Advisory Board member Lavelle Rogers with Lisa Floran and Lisa Moultrie.

Understanding SYNC Youth Programs
Strengthening Youth through a Network of Care (SYNC) was a two-year initiative that put GIC’s anti-violence research and recommendations into practice. Collaborating with community-based organizations and the research team at NORC, we replicated Quantum Opportunities, an intensive, evidence-informed mentoring program for acutely high-risk youth and introduced a care coordination service to identify and address individualized needs. With over 400 served, positive results continue to come in.

Data on Youth Expungements

What the data tell us:

  • 78% of juvenile arrests found were eligible to expunge now.
  • Of the 24 youth successfully referred, 88 expungements were granted. This reflects a tremendous opportunity for more expungements.

GIC's grant with Cabrini Green Legal Aid remains active and we look forward to an increase in CBO referrals.

The State of SYNC Youth

At the time of enrollment, youth in the SYNC program were overwhelmingly suffering from trauma and relatedly were truant and experiencing significant police contact.

Outcome data shows that 66% of participants met or exceeded the average dosage for the Quantum Opportunities mentoring program. These are exceptional results for retention!

Reports by agency

Not only has SYNC yielded youth-related positive developments, but it has also provided a greater understanding of organizational capacities and what it takes to successfully engage and retain acutely high risk youth. Stay tuned for more on SYNC outcomes when NORC’s full evaluation is complete later this Fall.

Read more on SYNC.

Interview with Healing Hurt People-Chicago Program Director, Carol Reese

Describe the Healing Hurt People program.

Healing Hurt People-Chicago is a hospital-based violence intervention program. We serve youth and young adults who survive violent injuries and are seen at one of two Level I trauma centers in Chicago. We offer group and individual services to promote healing from trauma and to reduce risk of further injury from violence among young people we serve. Our team of trained clinicians address safety, emotional growth and healing and building for the future..

How long have you been doing this work?

I’ve been developing spiritual care and mental health services for 14 years in the trauma unit at John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County. For the last six years, I’ve partnered with a psychologist at the University of Chicago to bring the HHP program to Chicago. We’re replicating a model originally started by two physicians in Philadelphia..

What does it mean to work with acutely high-risk youth?

We see the worst and the best in humanity. We deal with sadness and horror at what people can do to each other in seemingly senseless acts of violence, but we also have the opportunity to help youth and young adults make sense and meaning out of their lives. The young people we work with are extremely insightful and resilient. They’re able to grow, to heal from many lifelong traumas, and to build supportive relationships.

"Get IN Chicago helped us launch and create stability to really grow and build a team."

How have you grown as a result of GIC funding?

Get IN Chicago provided the long-term funding, for a period of over three years that helped us launch and create stability to build a team to serve a population that had been underserved and hard to reach. Their initial investment led to multiple other funders getting in. The people we serve need special attention and resources because of their serious and sometimes life-threatening injuries. GIC funding allowed the trauma centers to focus on providing patients the follow up care they need in the community after discharge from the hospital.

Interview with KLEO Community Family Life Center Executive Director, Leslé Honoré

What is KLEO's mission?

KLEO was founded when our CEO lost his sister to domestic violence. The organization was originally named after her, but now it’s an acronym for the words Keep Loving Each Other.

We were created to help women suffering from domestic violence, but we’ve grown to really focus on community violence prevention, because that’s at the root of preventing domestic violence. We offer after-school programming that helps youth process trauma through the arts, mentorship, job readiness training, and q monthly food pantry.

How long have you been doing this work?

KLEO was founded 13 years ago. I’ve personally been doing nonprofit work for about 20 years in Chicago.

"Get IN Chicago gave us the resources to train our staff."

What does it mean to work with acutely high-risk youth?

At KLEO we are working with communities that are lacking access to resources that are common in communities of privilege: affordable housing, safe neighborhoods, education, jobs, accessible grocery stores, etc. By providing programs that stand in those gaps we can break down some of the barriers to social and racial equity while making sure that the most vulnerable people aren’t swallowed up whole. We work with a trauma-informed lens, we are restorative, and we are sensitive.

More than anything, working with acutely at-risk youth means to acknowledge all of the challenges that they are facing, help them overcome those challenges and find a path way to success. It means to first find the hope in our communities and then help the youth we serve find the hope in themselves.

How have you grown as a result of GIC funding?

Get IN Chicago gave us the resources to train our staff on how to provide emergency mental-health first aid and how to use a trauma-informed lens in approaching situations that require de-escalation. GIC connected our staff with other Community-Based Organizations that were able to partner with KLEO and provide additional resources for more healing and support for our youth. GIC established a platform of collaboration that is both essential and powerful in the nonprofit world.

Crystal Jackson on Team GIC at the CHASE Challenge.


CRYSTAL JACKSON, GIC's Program Officer, says for her, GIC has been a very important way to make a contribution to help people who have less access to resources and opportunities and who are experiencing violence or at risk of violence.

"I’m proud of the work that we did and seeing those efforts shape the lives of youth and organizations in the city."

Funniest moment?

"While we had a small team, we created opportunities for team-building in the office. One team-building exercise that I came to relish was wall-sitting, where we would sit against a wall and hold the position for as long as possible. We had wall-sit competitions and wall-sit champions. That helped us develop camaraderie as a team and work toward a shared goal. We developed a lot of unity around that particular exercise."

Most surprising fact?

"I don’t know how many people understand our level of commitment and how personally we took our work. Weekends in Chicago can be violent, particularly in the summer. We would come in on Mondays and have to reconcile some of the awful things that had happened over the weekend with our efforts in those neighborhoods. We would have to reaffirm our commitment each time we heard about something that touched the lives of a young person."

Jessica Omana at Cradles to Crayons.


JESSICA OMANA, GIC's Grant Coordinator, says the best thing about working at GIC is being part of a collaborative of people who really care about decreasing violence and helping kids in very disadvantaged neighborhoods. "I’ve really enjoyed the collaborative aspect of Get IN Chicago."

Most memorable moment?

"We had a symposium in July of 2018 with a lot of speakers talking about the issues we work on every day. It was impressive to see people from so many different industries, not just the nonprofits that we work with, interested in the issue of violence."

Surprising fact?

"We’re not the typical funder, I think we are quite unique. It takes a lot of communication to work with grantees. People think we give out money and we don’t talk to the organizations afterwards, but that’s not the case. There’s a lot of follow-up to make sure the dollars are being used effectively so we know we’re making the lives of the kids and the communities better."

"As a result of creative engagement and collaboration, the level of services SYNC youth received at times exceeded UCAN’s standard."


"Metropolitan Family Services taking on the bulk of case management freed up time for mentors to implement programming. The partnership was a little confusing at first, but quickly was seen as an internal asset."

Westside Health Authority

"Navigators were able to provide additional outreach to solicit difficult to locate youth."

Youth Advocate Program

Alice and Emma, GIC's legendary first interns from the Loyola Gannon Fellowship.

Thank you to all of the donors to Get IN Chicago!


  • Allstate
  • Aon
  • Bank of America
  • BMO Harris Bank
  • The Boeing Company
  • CVS Health
  • Discover
  • EquiTrust
  • Exelon
  • GCM
  • Grosvenor
  • Guggenheim Partners
  • ITW
  • JPMorgan Chase
  • Loop Capital
  • McDonald’s Corporation
  • Mesirow Financial
  • Motorola Solutions Foundation
  • Northern Trust
  • PNC
  • The Satter Foundation
  • United


  • Adtalem Global Education
  • Alvin H. Baum Family Fund
  • Anonymous
  • CBOE Global Markets
  • CIBC
  • The Duchossois Group
  • Jill M. Garling & Thomas J. Wilson
  • The John Buck Company
  • Patricia O. Cox/KPW Foundation
  • The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Nicor Gas Nielsen
  • Larry D. Richman,
  • The PrivateBank
  • Charlie & Rochelle Trotter
  • Walmart
  • U.S. Cellular Corp.
  • TDS


  • Adtalem Global Education
  • Cook County Juvenile Probation
  • MacArthur Foundation
  • The University of Chicago – Chapin Hall
  • The University of Chicago -NORC
  • Edelman
  • Boston Consulting Group
  • Chicago Park District
  • Chicago Police Department
  • City of Chicago
  • FCB Chicago
  • Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice
  • The University of Chicago – Social Services Administration
  • MDRC
  • Chicago Public Schools
  • DLA Piper, LLP
  • Bain & Company, Inc.
  • Civic Consulting Alliance
  • Ernst & Young
Get IN Chicago provides counsel and support to community-based organizations, agencies, and funders working to reduce youth violence. By studying and funding initiatives focused on acutely high-risk youth, Get IN Chicago strives to identify the most promising practices to improve the lives and safety of young people in our city.  
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