Youth Guidance Expands Becoming A Man Program To Reach 4,000 At-Risk Chicago Males

Expansion Made Possible By Leadership Gifts from Exelon, Get IN Chicago, Peoples Gas, Jimmy John's and Bank of America as Part of Mayor Emanuel's Mentoring Initiative
By: Youth Guidance
CHICAGO - Oct. 6, 2016 - PRLog -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently announced the expansion of Youth Guidance's Becoming a Man (BAM) , program to serve 4,080 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) male students this year, an increase of approximately 30 percent, or an additional 1,300 students over last year. This expansion supports the Mayor's bold three-year initiative to reach 7,200 young men from at-risk communities with high-quality mentoring opportunities to prevent them from dropping out of school and staying on track for high school graduation. These additional 1,300 students will start the BAM program over the next several weeks.

"Last week, we made a promise to the next generation—that we as a city will tackle some of our biggest challenges together, starting first by helping our young people who need us the most," said Mayor Emanuel. "To support our children in being successful in school and in life, we must all play a role. I want to thank our partners for stepping up to get us closer toward the finish line in this important initiative that will make a difference in the lives of thousands of young people from across the city—marking a better future for all."

Leadership gifts include the following:
• Exelon has committed $3 million over the course of the next three years;
• Get IN Chicago has increased its commitment to BAM this year by $1 million, for a total of $2.3 million;
• Peoples Gas has committed $1.5 Million over the next three years;
• Jimmy Johns' owner and founder, Jimmy Liautaud, has personally committed $1 million for the first year, and;
• Bank of America has committed $500,000 over the next three years, to support the expansion BAM.

"The incredible philanthropic support we are receiving from Exelon, Peoples Gas, Get IN Chicago,  Jimmy John's owner, Jimmy John Liautaud, and Bank of America will increase our ability to deliver BAM mentoring across Chicago," said A.J. Watson, Director of BAM. "For years, Mayor Emanuel and the City of Chicago have stood beside mentoring services and the research that proves that adolescence is not too late to help course correct the life trajectory of at-risk youth."

"At Exelon, we are investing to empower young people and create opportunity," said Chris Crane, president and CEO of Exelon. "Programs like BAM prove that with investment and support, our kids can reject violence and instead step forward into bold and promising futures."

"At Get IN Chicago, we fund and study community-based programs that reach acutely high-risk youth most in danger of becoming victims or perpetrators of violence," said Toni Irving, Executive Director at Get IN Chicago. "We've found over the last two years through measurement and reporting that mentoring programs have an invaluable impact on almost all aspects of a young person's life. Strengthening our city's corps of mentors, therapists and service providers through programs like BAM, particularly in the community where many of these acutely high-risk kids are, is key to giving our youth the support they deserve."

"Peoples Gas is deeply committed to Chicago and excited about this new partnership with BAM, to help expand its mentoring program to reach at-risk young Chicago males," said Charles Matthews, president and CEO of Peoples Gas. "We are very impressed with BAM's success at teaching values and life skills and confident this program will have a significant impact on the young men in our community."

Jimmy John Liautaud, owner and founder of Jimmy John's Sandwiches says, "I credit much of my success to my mentor, Jim Lyons, who believed in me when I didn't believe in myself. He stood by me when my high school was ready to expel me. Jim listened to me and we grew to trust each other. He encouraged me and I started to believe that I could do whatever I wanted which helped me graduate from high school. That allowed me to move on to become a good friend, father, and husband, as well as a successful entrepreneur. That's why I'm supporting Mayor Emanuel's initiative to reach young individuals who need someone to believe in and trust so they can also become the best version of themselves."

"Bank of America is committed to helping communities thrive and that includes investing in our youth to help them overcome obstacles, focus on their education and build pathways to their economic success.  We proudly join with the Mayor and all of Chicago to come together to invest in young adults to prepare them to succeed in school and in life," said Paul Lambert, Bank of America Chicago Market President.

BAM is a school-based group counseling program that helps young men learn and utilize social cognitive skills, such as slowing down their thinking, considering the perspective of others and identifying and evaluating consequences before acting. The program model integrates cognitive behavioral therapy, youth engagement and rites of passage work. BAM's foundation is six core values: integrity, accountability, self-determination, positive anger expression, respect for women and visionary goal setting. Last school year, BAM served 2,751 young men in 50 Chicago schools.

A recent University of Chicago Crime Lab study found that BAM reduced violent crime arrests by 50%, reduced total arrests by 35%, and increased on-time high school graduation rates by 19% for male students at Chicago Public Schools.  The Crime Lab estimates that BAM's benefits far outweigh the program costs, with up to $30 in societal gains for every $1 invested in the program, from realized reductions in crime alone. Crime Lab researchers believe the economic returns of BAM may ultimately be even higher because people with a high school diploma often have higher earning potential than those who drop out.

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