VIP is a six-month program focused on interrupting the cycle of violence among youth and young adults in North Lawndale through the power of the arts. The experience is segmented into four critical components that are designed to support participants to become aware of and work towards their life mission, build character, and gain job skills. Participants can earn up to $2,500 over the course of the program and must engage with the program a minimum of twelve hours a week. Daily programming is led by Navigators who guide participants through each component of the program and serve as positive role models and coaches.
Why We Invested
The VIP program represents new programming (formalized in 2017) within an established community organization and is characterized by a thoughtfully defined model focusing on an underserved population. The Firehouse and VIP’s CEO, Pastor Phil Jackson, has served the North Lawndale community for nearly three decades; the depth and breadth of his understanding of both the neighborhood’s assets and needs is unmatched. We believe that The Firehouse is at a pivotal juncture of ramping up the sophistication of its operational infrastructure and are excited about the potential value of A Better Chicago’s partnership in that.
VIP has demonstrated a strong appetite to develop its impact measurement capabilities. The organization’s overall intended impact is to interrupt the cycle of violence by youth and young adults in North Lawndale through helping to prevent participants from getting new legal cases and connecting young men to educational (largely GED) and job opportunities. While the organization is currently tracking some leading indicators such as participant attendance and open legal cases, Jackson has an appetite to further develop impact measurement, which could include workforce development and social-emotional learning metrics.