The lives of young people are disrupted, traumatized, and cut short by gun violence every single day in the United States. Despite progress being made in some cities to reduce gun violence, communities in Chicago have recently endured record numbers of homicides and shootings. Over 71 percent of the city’s violent crime was confined to just 15 of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods, and nearly 80 percent of homicide victims were African-American. These trends are consistent with evidence demonstrating that young men living in poverty are disproportionately likely to be involved with gun violence and other illegal activity. As communities deal with these issues, many nonprofit programs, such as Chicago CRED (Creating Real Economic Diversity), have stepped in to help guide at-risk young adults.
On March 9, Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow and former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan convened a panel of young people from Chicago CRED to discuss their experiences, including problems they’ve faced and challenges they’ve overcome in dealing with gun violence in their communities. The discussion centered around the personal impact of programs that focus on mentorship, job training, and creating a sustainable skill set for long-term personal and professional growth. What are the most effective means for improving prosperity and reducing violence to positively impact the lives of young people in at-risk communities? How can mentorship and job-training programs be used as a tool to break the cycle of gun violence?
After the session, speakers took audience questions.