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Civic Committee wants to invest tens of millions of dollars, create thousands of jobs to pull off ambitious crime-prevention program

Thursday, Jun 1, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Sun-Times

James Crown, one of the wealthiest men in Chicago, is aiming to use his national clout in business to try to fight crime in the city. The ambitious goal? To reduce the number of killings in Chicago to fewer than 400 a year within five years.

On Thursday, Crown — whose family was ranked 34th-richest in America by Forbes in 2020, worth an estimated $10.2 billion — is announcing a crime-reduction strategy focused on getting jobs for thousands of people in the most dangerous parts of Chicago, providing millions of dollars for civilian violence-intervention programs, strengthening law enforcement agencies and investing in low-income communities.

He’s a leader of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, which spent six months doing research and conducting interviews with former Mayor Lori Lightfoot, former police Supt. David Brown, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and leaders of dozens of organizations with ties to the criminal justice system.

* It wasn’t mentioned in the story, so I asked a spokesperson how much money was involved here…

They have acknowledged it will be tens of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs — but they won’t put a specific dollar figure out there until they have sat down with the violence intervention groups — analyzed state and private funding sources — looked at the schedule for scaling up — year by year — and determined the unfunded gap. So, the need will likely be smaller in year one than in year five and — as you know - public funding will also fluctuate — particularly as ARPA funds dry up.

* From the press release…

The Civic Committee has set ambitious goals that it believes the City should strive for and would put Chicago on track to be the safest big city in America:


    • Five years: Bring the annual number of homicides below 400 from the recent high of 804 in 2021.
    • Ten years: Bring the annual number of homicides below 200.


    • Five years: Bring the annual number of shootings below 2,000 from the record high of 3,561 in 2021.
    • Ten years: Bring the number of shootings below 1,000.

“We are clear-eyed about the challenges, but we also think it’s necessary to have a shared set of ambitious goals when it comes to reducing violence and saving lives,” Crown said.

To identify the areas where business can have the most impact, the Civic Committee engaged in a seven-month fact-finding process that included interviews with numerous elected officials, community organizations, academic experts, philanthropy, and law enforcement. Out of this process, the Civic Committee announced five commitments where it believes business can make the most significant contribution to address both short-term acute issues and long-term root causes of gun violence. They are:

    1. Helping take community violence intervention (CVI) programs to scale
    2. Hiring alumni of CVI programs with wraparound support services
    3. Enhancing policing/criminal justice reforms
    4. Hiring more broadly from underinvested communities
    5. Investing directly in underinvested communities

“We know that thousands of jobs are needed. We know that millions of dollars and technical support are needed. We know that our South and West Side communities need investment,” said Civic Committee President Derek Douglas. “Our five commitments reflect what business can bring to the table – a table that needs to be bolstered with leaders from across all sectors to work together and hold each other accountable to get the job done. No one sector can do it alone.”

The Civic Committee highlighted the work of the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities (PSPC), a consortium of 50 funders/donors, including the Crown Family Philanthropies, which helped drive home the need to take to scale Chicago’s growing network of community violence intervention programs which are on the ground saving lives. In particular, it noted PSPC’s support to expand the reach of the most effective programs, in one example, where gun violence dropped more than 40% last year.

The task force also affirmed that challenges in the law enforcement community are long-standing, with complex, deeply rooted histories. Douglas added, “We can and must support effective, constitutional policing while doing what we can to support those who put their lives on the line to make us safe. We also need to make sure our systems are set up to hold violent offenders accountable.”

Over the coming weeks, the Civic Committee will continue its efforts to reach out to partners in philanthropy, the non-profit sector, and the business community as well as Mayor Johnson, Governor Pritzker, President Preckwinkle, and other government leaders across the City, County, and State, to both hone in more precisely on the scale, scope, and timeline of the resources that are needed from the business community and to offer support for the broader “one table” effort to develop a single, comprehensive, data-driven plan that can be implemented over the next five to ten years.

To help drive this work, Douglas also announced that the Civic Committee has hired a team of public safety experts that will be led by Bob Boik, the former head of the Office of Constitutional Policing in the Chicago Police Department (CPD). Boik will serve as the Civic Committee’s Vice President for Public Safety to work with the task force to implement the five commitments. The Civic Committee has also engaged Ernest Cato III, a former top official in CPD, and former Accenture Vice President Eric Patton, as senior advisors to build partnerships and support the implementation effort.


  1. - Demoralized - Thursday, Jun 1, 23 @ 1:27 pm:

    At least they have developed a plan to try and address the problem instead of just condemning the city for the level of violence. They are trying to be part of the solution. Good for them.

  2. - Just Me 2 - Thursday, Jun 1, 23 @ 1:35 pm:

    The root cause of crime is people don’t have access to good paying jobs. We should focus on that.

  3. - Rudy’s teeth - Thursday, Jun 1, 23 @ 1:43 pm:

    Part of this admirable goal must address literacy in the population. A lack of literacy is a contributing factor that leads to a life of poverty.

    To engage individuals in meaningful work, they must possess literacy skills—the ability to read, to comprehend, and to compute.

    Literacy must be a component of this desire to employ individuals in meaningful work. This may lead to stability and security within communities.

  4. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Jun 1, 23 @ 1:49 pm:

    Now we’re talking. The long-standing problems of racism, poverty and disinvestment are top tier in terms of attention required and need major work from the private and public sectors.

  5. - City Guy - Thursday, Jun 1, 23 @ 1:50 pm:

    I’m happy to see the plan. I do have a couple of additions. One is to address lead poisoning. Replacing lead water lines is important but is moving to slowly. More needs to be done with filtering water, testing children, and addressing lead paint.

    I also think we need big jobs program aimed at 16 to 24 years old. A WPA, Civilian Conservation Corp type program. Perhaps even have them work on lead pipe replacement or painting homes. Or re-roofing and other repairs to homes.

  6. - Donnie Elgin - Thursday, Jun 1, 23 @ 2:07 pm:

    “is announcing a crime-reduction strategy focused on getting jobs for thousands of people in the most dangerous parts of Chicago”

    Bravo for focusing on getting more folks employed, that’s the root cause of criminal activity including shootings. Recent study point ou this is a good priority

    “Results from this study suggest that the sharp rise in unemployment during the coronavirus pandemic may have been associated with an average increase in firearm violence and homicide in 16 large US cities”

  7. - The Truth - Thursday, Jun 1, 23 @ 2:15 pm:

    This feels like a Batman reboot.

  8. - Original Rambler - Thursday, Jun 1, 23 @ 3:24 pm:

    This is very heartening. These people know how to succeed so hopefully this initiative will bear fruit.

  9. - DMC - Thursday, Jun 1, 23 @ 3:38 pm:

    I am happy to see this. However, all the money in the world can’t help the situation if both sides of the equation don’t come to the table with a sense of accountability. This will take work. I hope the new Mayor frankly either supports or gets out of the way to make this work. His full of excuses reaction to this past weekend was quite disheartening.

  10. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jun 1, 23 @ 3:42 pm:

    This is the type of blueprint plan Republicans should realize folks take seriously, especially if Republicans decide that governing for its own sake means better chances to escape the cult grip.

    I applaud the plan, as a plan.

    That’s being engaged in process, less the opportunity to engage in implementation or introduction to governing.

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