Trauma caused by violence is affecting our young people and preventing them from pursuing a satisfying future. Our Violence Intervention & Prevention Services (VIPS) program was created as a resource to help our youth thrive in a safer environment, so they can be empowered to fulfill their potential and become our future leaders.
There is an unprecedented rise in young people seeking services related to violence – a staggering 419% increase in the past three years. Our programs need to effectively scale to accommodate an escalating demand for violence prevention support such as coaching, mediation and positive community engagement.
We worked with the community through the VIPS program to deepen our impact and expand our core trauma informed services to the nearly 2,000 young people who reside in the North Lawndale community on Chicago’s West Side.
Our data shows that VIPS reduces youth participation in crime and violence, addresses trauma, and improves academic engagement and success. In addition to clinical case management and group mentoring, we also offer:
- Violence Intervention Coaching, which is 1-1 goal directed mentoring with a focus on education, employment, building a positive support system and building skills to make pro-social life choices.
- Violence Interruption, which mediates current and potential conflicts to minimize escalations of violence in the community. The success of this program is highly dependent on the credibility of staff from the community and their visibility in the neighborhood.
- Community Engagement events and activities designed to raise awareness, build trust and promote peace.
UCAN’s VIPS program, coupled with other community efforts, produced meaningful results. 89% of UCAN participants in the VIPS program were NOT charged with a violent crime, and that the community saw a 21% increase in youth indicating they were connected to a caring adult.
- Twenty-eight VIPS participants graduated from high school, including three valedictorians and one salutatorian.
- There were 188 mediations within a community that saw 2,962 shootings and 589 homicides in the same year.
- North Lawndale has seen a 30% reduction in shootings as a result of the collaborative efforts of UCAN and other community organizations
- VIPS hosted community basketball that saw 1,100 youth and adults come out to participate.
- Our first annual Kickback and Peace Fest designed to acknowledge the efforts of VIPS participants and promote a message of peace — had more than 750 attendees.
The Urban Institute identified the following strengths as a result of an exhaustive 6-month evaluation/review:
- A collaborative organizational culture and supportive work environment
- A model that highlights the role and importance of trauma in violence prevention
- Youth coaches who play a critical role in the lives of participants and their families
- A comprehensive approach, including onsite mental health professionals and connections to an array of community services as well as vocational and educational supports
- A strong data management system to allow for effective tracking of outcomes and results