Chicago sports teams partner with U. of C. Crime Lab

Chicago sports teams partner with Crime Lab to help make evidence-informed investments to reduce violence. – Photo courtesy of University of Chicago

By TONIA HILL
Staff Writer

Five professional sports teams in Chicago are partnering with the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab to address violence in the city.

The Chicago Bears, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Bulls, Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox announced on Wednesday, Dec. 20, that they are working together as a group and will be known as the Chicago Sports Alliance. The group will donate a $1 million in one-time grants to three programs in the city that support solutions to reduce violence.

The teams “drew on its [the Crime Lab] experience to help the teams assess how to target funding in the first year of this effort to maximize impact,” said U. of C. in a written statement.

“The great power of the Chicago Sports Alliance is its potential to use the influence and reach of the teams to bring our entire city together to address our most critical challenge – violence,” said Jens Ludwig, director of the Crime Lab and co-director of the University of Chicago Education Lab in a written statement. “Collectively the five teams reach people from all walks of life, all backgrounds and all corners of our city.”

The Chicago Sports Alliance in its first year will provide three one-time grants.

The programs consist of Choose 2 Change; analyst training by the Crime Lab for the Chicago Police Department’s Strategic Decision Support Centers, and the University of Chicago Crime Lab “to support efforts to measure and assess the impact of the teams’ initial investments to improve outcomes for the most vulnerable Chicagoans,” said U. of C. in a written statement.

“We are all deeply saddened every day when we read a new headline about shootings and violence in Chicago,” said Chicago White Sox and Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf in a written statement. “Chicago is our home. This is the greatest city in the world. Collectively, we need to work together to preserve it, and now is the time for us to double our efforts.”

Choose 2 Change is a mentoring and trauma therapy program “proven to reduce violent behavior among youth in the Greater Englewood community who are at-risk for violence involvement,” according to U. of C. CPD’s Strategic Decision Support Centers works with district leadership and civilian analysts. The team works together to develop localized crime reduction strategies through the use of technology and data analysis.

Each sports team will work with grant recipients throughout the year by providing support and will assist in bringing awareness to the programs.

“While our teams wear different uniforms and have different names, this city is something we all share,” said Chicago Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz in a written statement. “Chicago comes first in all of our names, and we share an unconditional commitment to build strong communities around us and do what we can to help identify solutions to one of the city’s toughest and most complicated problems.”

The Crime Lab helps build evidence-based analysis of policies to address issues of crime and crime reduction in an urban area alongside policymakers and practitioners.

t.hill@hpherald.com