Rapid Employment and Development Initiative (READI)

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

  • This strategy can provide assistance to unemployed workers and can help prevent violence. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve this outcome are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program basics

  • Intensive 2-year program combining transitional jobs with cognitive behavioral therapy, case management, coaching, and other support services
  • Features novel combination of violence prevention and workforce development interventions aimed at reducing incidence of violence

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Promising (Third-highest tier)


Promising (Third-highest tier)

READI is not yet in any of the major clearinghouses, but has demonstrated positive preliminary results in an independent, high-quality evaluation conducted by UChicago Urban Labs

Target population

At-risk youth

Program cost

$23,000 per participant annually

Dates active


Outcomes and impact

  • Preliminary results indicate that participants may experience reductions in shooting and homicide victimizations and arrests
  • 72 percent of participants who begin transitional employment programming are still working after six months
  • 56 percent of participants who begin transitional employment programming are still working after 12 months

Keys to successful implementation

  • READI’s three concurrent referral pathways—individual and community-based referrals, referrals from the justice system, and the predictive analytics tool—ensures that the program can reach the most deeply disconnected young men in five of Chicago’s most challenged neighborhoods.
  • Access to extensive justice system data on individuals and sophisticated analysis capability enable READI to ensure that all referred participants are in fact at the highest levels of risk.
  • Delivering the READI model through well-established community-based partners makes engaging the hardest-to-reach young men less challenging than it would otherwise be.
  • Designing a highly detailed RFP ensured that prospective community-based partners clearly understood the commitment and expectations of delivering the READI model with fidelity and allowed Heartland Alliance to make highly informed decisions about which vendors to partner with.
  • Commitment to hiring individuals with relevant lived experience has been instrumental in building trust and authenticity in both the READI Chicago intervention and its day-to-day service delivery.
  • Collaboration between the University of Chicago Urban Labs and the Social IMPACT team at Heartland Alliance has ensured the collection and analysis of data to inform real-time program improvements and program accountability.

Rapid Employment and Development Initiative (READI) - Chicago

Rapid Employment and Development Initiative (READI) - Chicago

READI: Connecting Chicago's youth at the highest risk of gun violence to transitional jobs, support services, and cognitive behavioral therapy

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