Engaging Youth Through Therapy and Mentorship

We partner with Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), to provide young people with a trauma-informed, sixth month program to help them process traumatic experiences, develop healthy decision-making and coping skills, and reclaim a sense of control and hope for the future. Choose to Change® (C2C) launched in 2015 in the greater Englewood Communities of Chicago. Since then, the program has expanded to the South and West Sides of the City and has engaged over 500 youth from communities disproportionately impacted by gun violence. C2C is rigorously evaluated by the University of Chicago Crime and Education Labs.

Program Facts

Through a randomized controlled trial, researchers at the University of Chicago Crime Lab and Education Lab have found that C2C reduces violent-crime arrests by almost 50% and increases attendance in school by about a week. 

Almost 50% r
eduction of violent-crime arrests

ncreased school attendance

Who We Serve

C2C engages youth (ages 13-21) who have faced complex challenges in their community — including trauma exposure, justice system involvement and school disengagement. C2C participants are on average 16 years old when they start the program. C2C serves youth of all genders, and C2C youth are predominately Black.

What We Provide

C2C youth succeed by improving academic engagement and reducing interactions with the justice system. C2C offers youth 6 months of community-based wraparound support and trauma-informed cognitive behavioral group therapy. The therapy aims to help youth regulate their emotions and understand how past traumatic experiences or chronic stress can impact their thinking and behavior. Youth learn to challenge unhelpful thinking, develop more resilient coping mechanisms, to address stressors, and build problem-solving and communication skills.

Where We Serve

Counties Served:

Cook (South, West, Northside of Chicago)

The Choose to Change program played an important part in making sure I was kept on a path that guided me towards making the right decisions. Without it, I’m not sure where I’d be today. Malik, C2C Alum
They [C2C] gave me a bunch of opportunities to try to help me get into hair school. I feel like they’re family to me – [they] helped me with my anger and when I called them, they were there. Trishauna, C2C Alum

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