We are driven to: decrease shootings and homicides among those at highest risk of gun violence; create new opportunities for these same individuals to change their life trajectory and decrease their involvement with the criminal justice system; and help build an infrastructure at the community level to promote long-term safety and opportunity in Chicago's most impoverished communities.
Between 2015 and 2016, Chicago experienced a historic and sustained surge in gun violence, recording 769 homicides, a 57% increase over 2015. Perhaps most striking about the surge in gun violence in 2016 was just how sudden it was. With very little warning, shootings surged in January 2016 and remained higher in almost every month that followed. Though murders declined by 15 percent in 2017, the homicide rate in Chicago today remains seven times that of New York City’s.
Gun violence remains concentrated among a small number of highly disadvantaged neighborhoods, disproportionately impacting our most vulnerable citizens. Despite containing roughly ten percent of Chicago’s population, just five neighborhoods accounted for over 30 percent of the homicides in each of 2016 and 2017, up from 25 percent in 2015. Most gun violence suspects and victims in Chicago are African American men in their 20s and 30s, with low levels of education and extensive criminal records, resulting in limited access to viable and stable employment, housing, legal services, and behavioral health supports.
There is no one solution to gun violence, and there are a number of promising approaches being implemented in Chicago. We launched READI Chicago because we believe that connecting the highest-risk people to critical supports has the potential to save lives now, and to create greater opportunity and safety over the long term for those who are most highly impacted by violence.
We are seeking to connect 500 men in jobs by spring 2019.
We are focused on those who are at highest risk of gun violence involvement.
Our staff bring lived experience, credibility and compassion to their approach to building relationships with men who have been disconnected and have strong incentives to stay off the grid. Our participants are together building a new network of men seeking to become positive forces in their families and communities.
It’s a 24-month program that fully supports participant success – including when they have setbacks. READI Chicago’s developmental pathway model is designed to support their continued personal development and sustainable employment after READI Chicago completion.
The University of Chicago Crime and Poverty labs are rigorously evaluating the program’s effectiveness in order to understand its impact and potential to expand if results are strong.
The READI Chicago team at Heartland Alliance collectively brings over 50 years of experience and is working hand-in-hand with the local partner organization staff to bring about real change in the lives of participants, and their communities.
Eddie Bocanegra joined Heartland Alliance in June 2017 as Senior Director of READI Chicago. In this role, he oversees the management and implementation of the evidence-based and trauma-informed program to reduce gun violence and promote safety and opportunity.
As a pioneer in the field, Mr. Bocanegra brings years of experience in community-based organizations and programs created to address trauma and build resiliency among those most impacted by violence. Most recently, he served as Executive Director for the YMCA of Chicago and was responsible for programs that focused on trauma inform approaches such as Urban Warriors and Bridging the Divide.
Prior to the YMCA, he was the congregational organizer for Community Renewal Society where he led FORCE (Fighting to Overcome Records and Create Equality), a coalition that advocates for increased opportunities for the formerly incarcerated. He also worked as a violence interrupter for Chicago’s Ceasefire and was featured in the award-winning documentary The Interrupters.
Mr. Bocanegra holds both a master’s and bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Chicago and Northeastern Illinois University, respectively. He has served on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Commission for a Safer Chicago, is a committee member of the Juvenile Justice Leadership Council, and a board member of the Community Renewal Society, and of the Juvenile Justice Initiative. He has spoken at the United Nations, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and the U.S. Embassy in Madrid and Uganda on the topic of trauma and its relation to community violence.
Miguel Cambray joined Heartland Alliance in August 2017 as Director of Employment for READI Chicago. In this role, he manages the development and implementation of career pathways for project community partners and program participants.
Over the last 15 years, Mr. Cambray has held various positions within community-based nonprofit organizations and in higher education. Most recently, he was the Director for TRIO Education Opportunity Center at National Louis University working with several schools and organizations on the Southwest Side of Chicago providing access opportunities to higher education.
Previously, he served as the Director of Multicultural Student Services at Lewis University, the founding Director for the Latino Resource Center at Northeastern Illinois University. He has worked on special policy groups with the Illinois African American and Latino Higher Education Alliance (IALHEA) and Illinois Latino Council on Higher Education (ILACHE).
Mr. Cambray holds a bachelor degree in Law and Justice Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago, a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University. He is pursuing his doctorate in Community Psychology from National Louis University.
Marlon Chamberlain joined Heartland Alliance on August 7th 2017 as Community Project Manager for READI Chicago. In this role, he manages day-to-day operations and participant outreach within the Englewood and West Englewood communities.
For more than 20 years, Mr. Chamberlain has developed a strong background and lived experiences with populations who have been impacted by the criminal justice system. Most recently, he was the lead organizer of FORCE (Fighting to Overcome Records & Create Equality), an initiative of the Community Renewal Society. In this capacity, he led efforts to approve legislation that removed collateral consequences for people with records in Illinois.
Mr. Chamberlain is an active community member and works with congregations to promote police accountability, restorative justice practices, educational funding, and community benefits agreement for neighborhoods of color.
In 2014, he received the Purdy award from Community Renewal Society which recognizes outstanding leadership in organizing and policy. He also has received the outstanding community leadership award from Dawson Technical Institute in recognition of his mentorship and trainings on civic engagement, and is expected to receive the visionary award from the Safer Foundation. He is furthering his education at Kennedy-King College and will attend Northeastern University in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in social work.
Marci Kresin joined Heartland Alliance in July 2017 as Director of Operations for READI Chicago. In this role, she is responsible for aligning and implementing activities related to business and operations functions
Ms. Kresin has more than 25 years of non-profit and operations experience. Most recently, she served as the Chief Operating Officer for WINGS, the largest domestic violence organization in Illinois. In this capacity, she was responsible for the organization’s daily functioning, growth, and sustainability.
She has previously held a number of positions within Heartland Alliance Health including leading the business operations for the organization, including its Federally Qualified Health Center, which is dedicated to providing healthcare for individuals who are homeless and with limited access to care. Ms. Kresin also served in various administrative and clinical management positions in residential and outpatient settings within the Mental Health & Addiction Services division.
She began her career at Community Counseling Centers of Chicago (C4), assisting adults with severe mental illness and later led the organization’s Emergency Services Department. During this period, she developed a behavioral health treatment and discharge planning team, established a private hospital partnership, and chaired a network of 15 service providers focused on service integration and community resource development for mental health services.
Ms. Kresin has a bachelor’s degree in counseling from Southern Illinois University. She has worked to promote and advocate for quality behavioral health services as a member of the Mental Health Summit and a statewide Mental Health Committee.
Keith Lewis joined Heartland Alliance in August 2017 as Director of Programs for READI Chicago. In this role, he is responsible for managing programmatic experience for READI participants and leading capacity building efforts for READI staff and partners.
Over the last 20 years, Mr. Lewis has worked with various community based organizations, as well as educational and government institutions. Most recently, he served as Director of Community Engagement for United Way of Metropolitan Chicago where he led several major community initiatives in the areas of education, financial stability and health.
He previously served as the Community and Neighborhood Coordinator for DePaul University. During this time, he lectured on the topic of asset based community development and violence prevention, and underwent Critical Reflective Practice training. He also was selected to provide recommendations to the White House’s “My Brother’s Keepers” initiative aimed to augment the Black and Latino male achievement gap.
Mr. Lewis has designed and delivered trainings on topics such as diversity, leadership development, college and career access, and community engagement. He also has been a keynote speaker for the Chicago Park District, North Lawndale College Prep High School and Manley Career Academy.
Mr. Lewis is a board member of Mikva Challenge and Diasporal Discoveries, and a founding board member for the Crib Collective. He has been an adjunct professor for the City Colleges of Chicago and Columbia College, and served as an advisor for Fathers, Families and Health Communities, a non-profit organization that serves low-income, non-custodial fathers.
He is an alum of Public Allies community leadership program and Latino Policy Forum’s Multicultural Leadership Academy. He received the National Changemaker award, and was a faculty member of the Leadership Practice, a partnership initiative between Northwestern University and Public Allies.
Mr. Lewis has a master’s degree in public administration from Governors State University and a bachelor’s degree in materials and logistics management from Michigan State University.
Jane Manwarring joined Heartland Alliance in September 2017 as Executive Coordinator for READI Chicago. In this role, she supports and coordinates the READI Chicago team’s administrative responsibilities and day-to-day planning.
For the last two years, she has served as an intern within the non-profit sector and most recently, she served as policy intern at the Community Renewal Society. During her internship, she researched issues of police misconduct within the Chicago Police Department.
Ms. Manwarring is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from Loyola University Chicago.
Floyd Stafford joined Heartland Alliance in August 2017 as Community Project Manager for READI Chicago. In this role, he manages day-to-day operations and participant outreach within the Austin and West Garfield Park communities.
For more than 10 years, Mr. Stafford has been involved in programs and initiatives that support those who have been impacted by the criminal justice system. Most recently, he served as the Legislative Coordinator for the Cook County Justice Advisory Council (JAC), where he worked to preserve public safety, reduce recidivism, and promote fair and equitable access at the Cook County Jail and Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. As a legislative coordinator, Mr. Stafford also was responsible for the JAC’s legislative agenda and coalition building efforts.
Mr. Stafford is the co-founder of The Alumni Association, a peer support network for the formerly incarcerated. He is also a former leader of the Community Renewal Society’s FORCE (Fighting to Overcome Records and Create Equality) program, a coalition that advocates for increased opportunities for the formerly incarcerated.
Mr. Stafford has a master’s degree in social work, and health administration and policy from the University of Chicago.
Jacqueline Summerville-White joined Heartland Alliance in November 6, 2017 as Community Project Manager for READI Chicago. In this role, she manages day-to-day operations and participant outreach within the Austin and West Garfield Park communities.
For more than 10 years, Jacqueline has been involved in the non-profit sector working with marginalized adults to assist them with workforce readiness. She also has extensive experience with her own non-profit, which focused on mentoring at risk youth on alternatives to gang activity. Additionally, she’s led community- based collaborations that developed curriculum focused on healthcare bridge programs, soft skill workshops, and financial workshops to adult learners and returning citizens.
Prior to her work in the social sector, she spent over 25 years in the financial industry as branch manager and held the title of assistant vice president of a major banking institution.
Mrs. White has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Illinois, and is a graduate of the Illinois Latino Policy Forum Leadership Academy.
Sophia Manuel joined Heartland Alliance in July 2018 as the Corrections Project Manager for READI Chicago. In this role, she develops and manages pathways for individuals returning from jail or prison to become READI Chicago participants.
Ms. Manuel has interned at both policy and direct-service levels of reentry. She interned in the NYC Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, where she helped develop and oversee implementation of programs for people with mental illness leaving jail. She did a clinical internship with TASC inside the Cook County Jail, where she assessed individuals who were about to be released and referred them to community-based providers.
Prior to moving to Chicago, Ms. Manuel worked for several years as an investigator of police misconduct for the City of New York.
Ms. Manuel has dual master’s degrees in social work and public policy from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in development studies from Brown University.
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