Creating a safer city for tomorrow.
Safety is a top priority for both the City and County governments. Over the past year, we joined forces to meet the challenge of reducing violent crime in our city. Our goals: to stabilize our communities and to make them safer places to live and work. We call this collective effort CARE, the Community Anti-Violence and Restoration Effort.
We have all witnessed the powerful ripple effects that violence inflicts on entire neighborhoods. But everyone can play a role and help create more stable communities. This is why CARE brings not only the City and County governments together, but also aldermen, law enforcement, neighborhood organizations, families, teachers, residents, and businesses to create a vast network with the collective tools and resources necessary to make our communities safe.
CARE unites these groups to accomplish four goals:
- Promote community stabilization through active community leadership and participation
- Prevent violence on our streets
- Keep youth safe and in school
- Coordinate resources to ensure an effective response to violence in our community
The City and County spend $4.5 billion annually toward violence reduction. CARE creates an opportunity to focus resources and funding toward prevention and intervention, which are crucial pieces in the anti-violence equation. With roots in our schools, businesses, and neighborhood organizations, CARE extends beyond the responsibility of the government and law enforcement; it is a coordinated investment that encompasses multiple City, County, and community programs.
Community participation is vital to CARE’s success. CARE is focused on creating solutions at the community level and mobilizing residents to take an active role in their neighborhoods. We listen to our residents and local leaders to learn what’s most important to them, to hear their stories, and to empower them to become active participants. We want to know what community means to them and how they envision change in their neighborhood. There’s wisdom in each community; each knows and understands its unique needs and is often the best source for a solution.
These collective efforts already show improvements in our neighborhoods as community members make changes through CARE initiatives. For example, residents and local faith-based leaders, among others, work together to create “Strong Blocks;” together they address issues such as broken windows, graffiti, and damaged street lights, and they promote a positive community presence through townhall meetings and other community-led initiatives such as prayer vigils and block cleanups.
CARE is at work on other aspects of our communities as well. Thirty-five CPS high schools and 223 elementary schools currently take part in Safe Passage programs. As a result, violent incidents fell 24 percent along these routes during the 2011-2012 school years. Through One Summer Chicago, more than 168,000 summer programs for youths aged six to 24 were available last year, including summer camps and arts and sports programs. Additionally, CARE facilitated more than 17,000 job placements for area youth in local businesses and launched 700 customized summer jobs for those most at risk. And to date, the Chicago business community has generously provided more than $3 million in ongoing pro-bono support to CARE planning and activation.
We all share the responsibility to create safer neighborhoods, and we can make the biggest impact when we all work together and take ownership of our actions. We hear encouraging stories of strength and perseverance every day. We see residents who are empowered to create change. One thing we all have in common is hope for a brighter tomorrow. We know it’s a big vision, but it’s one worth striving for, and CARE is committed to making it a reality.
For more information, please see the CARE plan.