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The Institute for Nonviolence Chicago operates a street outreach program 24/7 in Austin, Back of the Yards, Brighton Park, and West Garfield Park—neighborhoods with the highest citywide incidences of violence.


Our teams are made up of credible messengers with license to operate. Since they are members of the communities they serve, they deeply understand street dynamics and build genuine trust with at-risk individuals, ultimately guiding them toward nonviolence. The team also works to prevent retaliation and support those in crisis immediately following a shooting.

When there is a shooting, "I respond to the scene and make  connections with the victim’s family and friends. I check social media to see if [the shooting] is being antagonized online. I go to the hospital and try to get to the bottom of the situation to see if I can stop the next incident from happening.

Dwayne Hunter, Outreach Worker


Gun violence is highly concentrated. 60% of the shootings citywide happen on about 6% of the blocks—mostly on the south and west sides of the city. We partner with Northwestern University’s Center for Neighborhood Engaged Research & Science (CORNERS) to develop evidence-based violence prevention approaches and identify who is most likely to be shot or become a shooter. 

By blending experience and comprehensive data, our outreach workers know who to approach, where and when to show up, and how to negotiate peace.

Andrew Papachristos, Faculty Director, Northwestern’s CORNERS notes the unique ability street outreach workers have to connect with the community.

In 2023, outreach workers conducted 314 conflict mediations that likely prevented a shooting.
40 new peace & nonaggression agreements were created between opposing street groups in 2023. 


Our outreach teams build lasting relationships with program participants in their communities by relentlessly engaging with them to prevent shootings. Instead of resorting to violence, program participants follow Kingian nonviolence principles and steps to transform their lives. They receive ongoing support from a dedicated outreach worker, who oversees their growth and provides support.

Program participants receive: 

  • Mentoring

  • Nonviolence Training

  • Cognitive Behavioral Interventions

  • Job Assistance

  • Crisis Intervention

  • Conflict Mediation

  • Community Engagement


Beyond working directly with participants, the Nonviolence Chicago street outreach team advocates for their communities by providing food and toiletries to residents in need and conducting well-being checks. They also help communities reclaim spaces through Light in the Night block parties and barbecues to cultivate safety and build relationships among neighbors.


Long-term, outreach workers are a constant source of support for participants and community residents.

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