Rapid Employment and Development Initiative (READI)

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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