Community violence intervention program Chicago CRED announced Tuesday it received a $21 million grant from the Sue Ling Gin Foundation, allowing it to expand its efforts to reduce gun violence in Chicago.
Chicago CRED, founded by former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, works primarily on the South and West sides to reduce violence through a holistic approach, including life coaching, outreach and job training.
Duncan said the grant will allow Chicago CRED to scale its work in North Lawndale and Roseland and expand to more neighborhoods.
“I was honestly pretty emotional,” Duncan said. “I would say this is the hardest work I’ve ever done. It’s the most heartbreaking but it’s also the most inspiring and meaningful.”
Sue Ling Gin, who passed away in 2014, was a Chicago-based entrepreneur, philanthropist and businesswoman who founded airline catering company Flying Food Group and served on the boards of several nonprofit and civic organizations.
Paul Cunningham, a spokesperson for Chicago CRED, said receiving the grant is “hugely affirming” of the nonprofit’s work.
Duncan said Chicago CRED’s success is proven, citing a recent study from Northwestern University, which found that people who completed the violence intervention program were 73% less likely to be arrested for a violent crime in the years following enrollment.
Bob Hamada, co-trustee of the Sue Ling Gin Foundation, said this grant is the largest one the foundation has given. The foundation has been active for about a year, and chose to focus on gun violence to honor Gin’s commitment to improving the city, Hamada said.
Chicago CRED was a natural choice from there, he added.
“We talked to a number of leaders in this field of gun violence reduction, and everybody mentioned Arne Duncan, and CRED, as major innovators and doers in this domain,” Hamada said.
Hamada, who knew Gin personally, said the grant also honors her life and work because Duncan has characteristics similar to her.
“He’s a passionate Chicagoan just like she is,” he said. “I found that very intriguing, how CRED, Arne Duncan and Sue Gin had very, very similar goals.”
Duncan said he had been in communication with the foundation seriously since about August and was encouraged to apply for a grant.
He described the funds as “transformational” for their work.
“It’s not inevitable that Chicago be so horribly impacted by gun violence,” Duncan said. “We can do better, we must do better, and they’re stepping up in a big way.”