The Bloc is a ten-week program that runs four times throughout the school year. Programming is focused on developing critical social-emotional skills and supporting academic achievement through mentoring, character building, and academic coaching – all couched in learning the sport of boxing. Programming is designed to support students with setting ambitious academic and personal goals and creating and following plans to achieve them. This is aimed at helping students develop positive habits that will enable achievement of critical milestones such as completing high school and attending college. The Bloc places importance on creating an experience with few barriers to entry and that provides students with a strong sense of belonging. Programming takes place five days a week, and students are expected to attend sessions at least twice a week to reap the full benefits of involvement.
Why We Invested
The intended impact of The Bloc’s work is to ensure young people, particularly those who may be counted out of other opportunities due to aggression, have a place where they can belong, develop positive habits, improve academically, and grow personally. The Bloc has tracked high school graduation, GPA improvement, and ACT growth, and the program has seen promising results. Since 2016, each participant of The Bloc has graduated from high school. In 2019, students entered with an average GPA of 1.8 and left with a 3.02. Finally, youth in the program grew 40 percent more than their classmates on the ACT.
Executive Director Jamyle Cannon is taking a disciplined approach to growth, prioritizing program development and remaining committed to a hyper-local focus on West Side neighborhoods. He intends to support growth by adding capacity through strategic hiring and improved volunteer training. The Bloc has the potential to serve up to 2,000 North Lawndale students, and this will increase by dozens of schools and thousands of students as the organization looks to move into other West Side neighborhoods.
Fall 2021, The Bloc began a strategic planning process with Open Door Advisors. A Better Chicago covered 100 percent of the cost for this project.