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Following his comprehensive speech outlining his public safety plan last week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel today delivered on a key component of this plan by announcing the immediate expansion of the Becoming a Man (BAM) mentoring program. Starting this year, BAM will immediately expand to serve 1,300 additional students this school year, bringing the total of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students served to 4,080. The expansion supports the Mayor’s bold three-year initiative to provide 7,200 young men from at-risk communities with high-quality mentoring opportunities to prevent them from dropping out of school and keep them on track for high school graduation.
“Last week, we made a promise to our next generation that we as a city would collectively tackle some of our biggest challenges, and we are delivering on that promise with more opportunities for our youth to succeed,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Important investments in mentoring that have the power to turn young people’s lives around cannot wait for the next budget season. I want to thank our partners for stepping up on this important initiative that will make a difference in the lives of thousands of young people from across the city—while marking a better future for all.”
Increasing the city’s investment in high-quality mentoring programs is a central tenet of Mayor’s comprehensive public safety strategy, presented last week, to improve safety in neighborhoods citywide. Overall, the BAM program has grown by more than 650 percent since 2011, from 535 students to 4,080 this year with the support of the Emanuel Administration and the City’s corporate and philanthropic community.
In recognition of the strong body of research which shows young men who have dropped out of school and are unemployed to be far more likely to be the victims and perpetrators of violent crime, the Mayor’s new three-year mentoring plan will seek to provide the most at-risk provide youth from our city’s highest poverty and highest violence neighborhoods with the support they need to remain on-track to graduate from high school and to avoid involvement in the criminal justice system. The targeted plan calls for mentoring services for 7,200 8th, 9th, and 10th grade boys in the 20 communities most impacted by violence.
To achieve this goal by 2018, the Mayor has called upon the private sector to support half of the $36 million initiative. To date, the following corporations and individuals have contributed $7 million to support this initiative, putting the city nearly halfway toward its three-year fundraising mark:
• Exelon has committed $3 million over the course of the next three years;
• Peoples Gas has committed $1.5 Million over the next three years;
• Get IN Chicago has increased its commitment to BAM by $1 Million, for a total of $2.3 Million this year;
• Jimmy Johns’ owner and founder, Jimmy Liautaud, has personally committed $1 million for the first year; and
• Bank of America has committed $500,000 over the next three years.
In the current school year, this initiative will expand the nationally recognized BAM model to serve more CPS students. The administration has been an early and continued supporter of BAM, partnering with the city’s corporate and philanthropic community to help BAM grow by more than 650 percent since 2011, from 535 students to 4,080 this year.
This school year, as a result of a new $3 million infusion by the city, a total of 65 schools will deliver BAM mentoring services to 4,080 male students. The nineteen new schools delivering the program this year include: Back of the Yards High School, Banner Academy West High School, Perkins Bass Elementary School, Brunson Elementary School, Burnside Scholastic Academy Elementary School, Cesar E. Chavez Elementary School, Michele Clark High School, Arthur Dixon Elementary School, James Hedges Fine & Performing Arts Elementary School, Benjamin E. Mays Elementary Academy, Alfred Nobel Elementary School, North-Grand High School, Al Raby High School, Paul Robeson High School, Simeon Career Academy High School, Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School, South Shore International High School, Spencer Technology Academy Elementary School and TEAM Englewood High School.
BAM uses cognitive behavioral therapy to help youth slow down and respond reflectively in high-stakes situations, reducing participants’ involvement in crime and violence. BAM will begin serving youth in existing schools over the next two weeks, and BAM will launch in new schools by November 7.
Research by the University of Chicago Crime Lab suggests the promise of this approach for improving the life outcomes of vulnerable young men. The Crime Lab found that BAM reduces violent crime arrests among participants by 45-50 percent, and increases on-time high school graduation rates by 19 percent.
In addition to the estimated $30 in societal gains for every $1 invested in BAM from realized reductions in crime alone, the evidence suggests that BAM, by increasing high school graduation, may also improve labor markets outcomes and increase future earnings potential of participants.
“There is no shortage of innovative ideas or of people committed to helping Chicago’s youth succeed. This initiative will expand these promising mentoring opportunities in the Chicago communities hardest hit by the heartbreaking violence our city faces,” said Roseanna Ander, Executive Director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab and the Education Lab. “And this investment brings not only a way to connect individual youth to mentors, but also an opportunity to learn more about how we can all work together to ensure that investments in the future of our city's youth have the greatest social impact per dollar spent.”
To close the gap and reach all of the youth identified by the Mayor’s plan to expand mentoring, the City will be searching for new evidence-based programs, as well as investing in existing programs like BAM. A fund managed by the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS), in partnership with University of Chicago Crime Lab, will incubate and expand mentoring programs that utilize program best practices and have a track record of improving youth outcomes. The application for these competitive funds will launch later this year.
“We know that mentoring fosters caring and supportive relationships that help young people to thrive, and there are many great organizations right here in our city that can provide our youth with these critical services,” said DFSS Commissioner Lisa Morrison Butler. “The Mayor and I look forward to investing in these proven programs to provide our youth the opportunity to take an active role and develop their own vision for their future.”
"The incredible philanthropic support we are receiving from Jimmy John's owner, Jimmy John Liautaud, Exelon, Get IN Chicago, Peoples Gas, and Bank of America will increase our ability to deliver BAM mentoring across Chicago," said A.J. Watson, Director of BAM. “Our counselors meet young men where they are—both physically and emotionally—with caring adult relationships that nurture and safeguard their future success. For years, Mayor Emanuel and the City of Chicago have stood beside mentoring services and the research that proves that high school is not too late to help course correct the life trajectory of at-risk youth."
Since taking office, Mayor Emanuel has made it a top priority to tackle the City’s most urgent goals: improving school outcomes, keeping youth safe, and increasing opportunities that put children on the path to a bright and successful future. To that end, the administration has consistently invested in learning, mentoring and employment opportunities, including programs like BAM. With continued annual budget investments by the city, the BAM program has expanded seven-fold and has established a presence in more than 40 additional schools since 2011.
These and other investments to keep youth safe and connected to their schools have paid off—with recent school safety data demonstrating a significant reduction in student-involved shootings and violent incidents occurring near and out of school since 2011, and suggesting that CPS students are much safer today as a result of these investments.