The University of Chicago Crime Lab recently celebrated 10 years of work spurring innovative crime reduction strategies. The results of Crime Lab and Education Lab work have developed into centerpieces of Chicago’s anti-violence strategies. One such success is Choose to Change (C2C), an intervention designed to help youth at risk of violence victimization and school disengagement. Developed jointly by Children’s Home & Aid and Youth Advocate Programs, C2C offers a six-month program that combines trauma-informed cognitive behavioral therapy with individualized mentorship.

C2C Program Director Chris Sutton says many of the youth participating in the program have trouble opening up when they initially join the group, “A lot of these kids aren’t at first comfortable with sharing… their lives have often been more bad than good.”

Since 2015, the Crime Lab’s ongoing evaluation has found that participation in C2C reduces violent crime arrests by 45%—results that persist long after young people finish the program. Although the program began its services in the greater Englewood area of Chicago, these findings have fueled an expansion to other neighborhoods of the city that have great need, supported by philanthropic partners and the city of Chicago itself. In 2015, C2C was the winner of the Chicago Design Competition.

Children’s Home & Aid believes this program is effective because of its unique approach. We work with youth to figure out what’s happened in their past in order to help them make better informed decisions in the future. Through group therapy, youth have the opportunity to learn from each other’s shared experiences. Not only is the therapist present during the group sessions, but so are the mentors. This relationship-based approach allows therapists and mentors to speak the same language and enforce the same skills even outside of therapy.

Past C2C participant Trishauna Herron says, “They’re family to me. They’ve helped me with my anger and have always been there for me.”

Children’s Home & Aid is incredibly grateful and excited to be part of this joint effort to combat violence. We look forward to continuing this data-driven program and helping strengthen the lives of youth who’ve been affected by violence.

For more information on the Crime Lab and C2C, visit:

Congratulations to the University of Chicago Crime Lab on 10 years of hard work!