Keith Lewis: READI Chicago

Keith Lewis has been helping young people in Chicago find opportunity for decades. From Public Allies and Mikva Challenge to the new READI Chicago Initiative that’s an innovative response to gun violence, Keith is dedicated to building hope where people once only saw dead ends. Today, as Director of Programs for READI Chicago, Keith is making sure our program works best for individuals who may have never been given a chance before.

What got you into this work?

I’ve been driven to see what I can do to help address violence in Chicago for sometime. Given my experience in Chicago’s social service agencies, and my experience with people in the space in which we serve, I think it just made a natural fit.

When did you realize that you were working in the right place?

The people I work with helped me realize that. It was early on, when we were just forming the team. With so many people from so many different backgrounds and experiences, the way we came together – you know, we really formed like Voltron. We put together a strong team to pull this initiative off

What’s the best part of your job?

Seeing people grow. I’m so invested in our participants development – it’s what I value most in this work. I take a lot of pride in seeing the young men we serve advance and succeed.

How can others help in your work?

READI Chicago is an unprecedented initiative. We are constantly learning and finding new ways to provide opportunities. Because this work has never been done before, we’re open to all valuable insights and knowledge. We’re ready to work with other insitutions and other colleagues to help this project grow – we’ve got an open door policy.