About Us

Our Mission

Our singular purpose is to achieve a transformative reduction in Chicago gun violence.

The Facts

  • In 2016, Chicago had a record 764 homicides (up 58% from 2015) and over 4,000 shootings. Both numbers are up by 50% over the past five years.

  • Chicago has more killings and shootings than New York City and Los Angeles combined—both in real numbers and on a per-capita basis. Over the last five years in New York City, homicides are down 20% and shootings are down 27%. In Los Angeles, homicides and shootings have stayed low with fewer than 294 homicides and 1,178 shootings last year.

  • In Chicago, only 26% of city homicides and only 5% of shootings ever resulted in arrests.

  • Over 71% of violent crime was confined to just 15 of the 77 city neighborhoods. Nearly 80% of homicide victims are African American.

Our Story

Chicago CRED (Creating Real Economic Destiny) was created in 2016 by Emerson Collective, a social impact organization founded and run by Laurene Powell Jobs, along with former U.S. Education Secretary and Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan.

We believe the best solution for ending gun violence is recruiting men most likely to be perpetrators or victims of shootings and transition them to jobs in the legal economy that pay as much or more than what they earn in the violence-plagued illegal economy.

Our approach is based on these key assumptions:

  • The drug/gang economy is virtually the only viable source of income in the highest-crime neighborhoods.

  • Street life has become so dangerous that men are receptive to non-criminal alternatives--if given the support services and training needed for safer, better-paying jobs in the private sector.

  • The financial bar is not high. Average street-level drug dealers most at risk to engage in gun violence make approximately $11-$13/hour—comparable to many entry-level jobs in Chicago.

Chicago CRED’s bold, research-based intervention strategy addresses the social, emotional and job readiness support to place our program participants in permanent, full-time jobs with private employers at a targeted starting wage of $12-$15/hour.

What We Do

Chicago CRED targets men identified as being at the highest risk of being shooters or being shot. Using street-level recruitment efforts, participants are placed in cohorts of approximately 30 men. All are paid a minimum wage with the opportunity to earn more based on performance. Over a several-month period they receive:

  • Training in the soft and hard skills needed to be effective employees.

  • Supervised transitional jobs working in areas such as interior home demolition, conservation and city beautification that provide the real-life experience of private-sector employment (punctuality, hard work, appropriate work behavior, etc.).

  • Intensive life coaching—a long-term supportive relationship to help set personal and professional goals and specific plans to achieve them.

  • A menu of other support services including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to manage conflict and emotions effectively, trauma counseling, tutoring to attain a GED or high school diploma, substance abuse counseling, legal counseling and help securing stable housing.

Our Jobs-Focused, Market-Driven Solution

Graduates of our program are placed in permanent full-time jobs with private employers. CRED builds relationships with employers and matches the right candidate with the right job. Our early graduates are working in jobs that pay between $12-$20/hour in industries such as construction, healthcare, security and manufacturing. Read more about the industries in which we operate.

All CRED graduates receive 12 months of ongoing life coaching once placed in permanent jobs.

Where We Operate

Chicago CRED operates its programs on the South and West Sides of Chicago. We are currently serving roughly 100 men in the Roseland, North Lawndale, West Garfield Park, Englewood neighborhoods.


The Chicago CRED Team