Chicago Area Project (CAP) was founded in the 1930's by Clifford Shaw, a University of Chicago sociologist, who believed every neighborhood could reduce juvenile delinquency by improving community life.
Our original mission has not changed since that founding. CAP's long history of community building has demonstrated that low-income residents are as capable as others in addressing critical neighborhood issues. CAP believes that community problems cannot be solved by bringing in outside agencies to "fix" local problems such as delinquency, gang violence, substance abuse, and unemployment. Chicago Area Project is a strong network of more than 40 grassroots organizations and special projects aimed at promoting positive youth development and preventing juvenile delinquency through community-building. Begun in 1934, CAP is founded on the concept that every neighborhood has the leaders it needs to solve its own problems.
CAP identifies community leaders and supports their grassroots efforts to mobilize residents to take responsibility for guiding young people. Working together, neighborhood leaders and residents prioritize neighborhood-specific issues, seek effective solutions, and identify available resources to address them.
CAP Affiliates, Alliance Partners, and special projects are located in underserved neighborhoods in the Chicago metropolitan area and throughout the State of Illinois. CAP serves community-based organizations and youth by playing various roles: facilitator, intermediary, mentor, and trainer. Each Affiliate is an independent, self-sustaining organization focused on the needs of neighborhood residents identified by its own leaders. Through its emphasis on community capacity-building, CAP works to develop and sustain its Affiliates and Alliance Partners. In partnership with local academic and national professional associations, CAP delivers training programs to professionalize youth service workers and improve the quality of their work with young people.
CAP uses a three-pronged approach to addressing delinquency and its root causes:
Community Organizing, Direct Services, and Advocacy
CAP empowers a broad base of community stakeholders to work together to improve neighborhood conditions, hold institutions accountable, reduce anti-social behavior by young people, protect children from inappropriate institutionalization, and provide youth with positive models for personal development.
Through implementation of special projects and on-going advocacy efforts, CAP has made substantial contributions to change in juvenile justice, workforce development, welfare and other systems that impact people in need.
Community Organizing involves identifying local leaders and supporting their efforts in mobilizing residents to take responsibility for guiding young people. Working together, community leaders, residents, and youth priortize neighborhood-specific issues, seek effective solutions, and identify available resources to address them.
Direct Services occur through CAP's network of more than 40 affiliates offering educational, cultural, and recreational programs.
CAP Advocates with neighborhood groups on behalf of their youth for improvements in schools, juvenile court systems, and employment opportunities.
CAP serves community-based organizations and young people by playing various roles: convener, facilitator, and grants manager. Through training and technical assistance, CAP builds the capacity of grassroots organizations to serve youth and families. In so doing, CAP improves, strengthens, and enhances community life.
The effectiveness of CAP’s methods has been demonstrated repeatedly throughout its 75-year history, and its principles of community organization are used by thousands of groups today to successfully solve local problems. Chicago Area Project serves as a model for improving community life for young people and their families.
The Chicago Area Project (CAP) is a, not-for-profit organization with a distinguished history and demonstrable track record of over 75 years of work in delinquency prevention and service in disadvantaged urban neighborhoods. The original mission of CAP has not changed since its inception:To work toward the prevention and eradication of juvenile delinquency through the development and support of affiliated local community self-help efforts in communities where the need is greatest.
Chicago Area Project's philosophy is to improve the quality of neighborhood life with a special focus on solving problems faced by young people and their families. The agency believes that residents must be empowered through the development of community organizations so that they can act together to improve neighborhood conditions, hold institutions serving the community accountable, reduce anti-social behavior by young people, protect them from inappropriate institutionalization, and provide them with positive models for personal development.
The goals of Chicago Area Project are to develop special projects and establish locally controlled organizations that implement the directives put forth in Cap's mission and philosophy. Projects and affiliates are mandated to positively impact areas in the Chicago vicinity with high rates of juvenile delinquency or other symptoms of social disorganization.
The objectives for Chicago Area Project initiatives and affiliated organizations include the following:
- To develop local leadership broadly representative of the communities that are being served.
- To conduct an annual community survey to assess needs and develop an action plan with a clear set of goals and objectives.
- To improve the climate for the positive development of young people by achieving such improvements as increases in educational achievement levels and vocational skills.
- To develop young people's leadership skills by involving them in youth-initiated community improvement activities or in cooperative projects with adults.
- To set measurable goals and show progress in improving undesirable conditions.
- To demonstrate an ability to raise funds, manage staff, and be accountable financially and programmatically.
- To promote and inform the community about all programs.
- To develop a referral/resource network with other agencies and institutions.
- To develop and maintain all contractual record keeping documents as required.
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