Earl came to UCAN at age 20 through The Peace Hub program after watching several friends and family members fall victim to gun violence. Earl wanted to leave his past life, which included gang involvement, to pursue more positive activities. Earl was paired with a youth development coach who provided him with guidance and support. In the past, financial obstacles made it difficult to stay away from the lure of gang activity. Understanding these struggles, Earl’s youth development coach provided him with critical tools and support needed to be successful in the job market and in life. “Having a development coach from UCAN took me away from the pressure to fit in on the streets. I want to stay a part of this community and help other kids find the programming they need,” explained Earl.
While volunteering his time with various outreach projects Earl developed a strong work ethic. UCAN program staff then linked him to Ruby’s Restaurant in North Lawndale for summer employment. His exceptional performance on the job led the restaurant to offer him a position as a permanent employee. UCAN then connected Earl with the North Lawndale Employment Network to improve his resume and preparedness for future job interviews. This training led to Earl successfully securing a position as a Safe Passage watcher position for Penn Elementary School. While working at Penn, he engaged many youth and encouraged them to make healthier life choices and avoid acting out violently. “Patrick [youth development coach] guided me through a job readiness training that led to multiple opportunities including the Safe Passage program, which provides me the platform to serve my community in a productive manner,” reflected Earl.
Earl continues to receive mentoring through UCAN. He was also involved in Generation Progress’ Fight4AFuture Gun Violence Prevention Summit, nationwide initiative comprised of more than 120 young activists from 30 states. Although Earl’s neighborhood has a shortage of opportunities; organizations like UCAN help meet vital needs and provide youth with the encouragement and direction needed to become successful adults. Earl has even gained an entrepreneurial spirit and has taken steps to start his own business.
To learn more about the impact of UCAN’s Violence Prevention programming click here.