City completes RFP to contract with 46 community-based organizations; marking over 60 percent progress toward Mayor’s 3-year goal
Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced another step toward the three-year plan to deliver universal mentoring by 2018. Following a competitive process launched in December to build citywide mentoring capacity, 46 organizations and community-based partners have received contracts to increase mentoring next month for 1,200 youth in the city’s 22 most at-risk communities.
Today’s expansion represents significant progress toward the Mayor’s bold 3-year, $36 million plan to expand mentoring services and to create universal mentoring in the communities that need it most. Combined with a steady series of expansion efforts underway this fiscal year, today’s expansion puts the city more than 60 percent toward its three-year goal of serving 7,200 young men well ahead of time.
“Over the past several months, we have significantly expanded mentoring programs as part of our commitment to supporting better outcomes for our youth and stronger communities,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Working with organizations with roots in the community, we will create a network of mentors to deliver the tools, resources, and guidance our youth need today to help put them on the right path to a bright future.”
To advance the Mayor’s ambitious three-year goal, a central tenet of the city’s public safety strategy, the Department of Family and Support Services launched a Request for Proposal (RFP) process. This process identified grassroots, community-based partners with a proven ability to link boys and young men in 8th, 9th and 10th grades to caring adults who will help to serve as positive role models, coaches and guides as youth navigate their teenage years.
In doing so, the goal is to connect the estimated 7,200 most at-risk young men, as identified by the University of Chicago’s crime lab, with the supports they need to remain on-track to graduate high school and to avoid involvement in the criminal justice system.
While several dozen applicants applied, recipients represent a diverse mix of men- and women-owned and operated, and all have a demonstrated ability to scale up quickly to achieve the urgent priorities outlined by the Mayor’s Mentoring Initiative. The RFP originally set out to build capacity by 1,000, and will instead serve another 1,200 plus young males beginning next month.
“It is our goal to leave not just a legacy of stronger opportunities for our youth, but stronger community organizations for all of our neighborhoods and residents to benefit from,” said Lisa Morrison Butler, commissioner of the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS). “Each of our partners mirrors the diversity that makes our city unique, and has demonstrated the ability to hit the ground running to serve our youth.”
Each agency selected has not only a strong track record in providing youth programming, but also demonstrated the appropriate plans and capacity to mentor young men through the Mayor’s initiative. While no two programs use the same programmatic approach, each of the newly-awarded mentoring partners will deliver one-to-one guidance by caring adults to support youth in avoiding anti-social and criminal behaviors and to keep them on track for educational success.
The City has set out to engage all applicants in moving the mentoring work forward, including those which did not advance through the RFP. DFSS has committed to working with organizations with a vested interest in community-based mentoring, working with them to grow their capacity. Each of the applicants has been invited to an April learning cohort where workshops on fiscal, philanthropic, operational and evidence-based practices will help organizations develop capacity to provide these services on their own, and in turn, supporting more youth.
To meet this ambitious goal, the city has expanded mentoring in the following ways: through an initial investment to expand the proven Youth Guidance program, Becoming A Man (BAM) that brought the total of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students served city-wide to 4,080, and includes mentoring for approximately 2,650 target youth in the target neighborhoods through CPS this year.
Additionally, earlier this year, the City invested in 11 longtime delegate partners for community-based mentoring, enabling them to increase services to serve another 660 young men this year. The first year of the three-year initiative is fully-funded, thanks to the generous support by private funders and the city’s continued commitment to broadening youth services.
Mentorship has been proven to be an effective strategy for increasing high school graduation rates and reducing violence. Research by the University of Chicago Crime Lab suggests the promise of this approach for improving the life outcomes of vulnerable young men. The Crime Lab found that BAM reduces violent crime arrests among participants by 45-50 percent, and increases on-time high school graduation rates by 19 percent.
Under the Mayor’s leadership, the city has steadily increased its investment year over year in mentoring and other youth programs to address some of the most urgent needs facing the city: keeping youth safe, improving school outcomes and reducing crime. Through investments in programs like BAM alone, the city has supported their expansion to more than 40 schools, serving an additional 3,500 students, since 2011.
The full list of mentoring RFP recipients includes: