Violence in Chicago remains high; recent crime statistics for January 2017, released by the Chicago Police Department, indicate that the number of homicides and shootings remained consistent with those from January 2016 at 51 and 50 murders, respectively.

Much of the violence remains concentrated in certain neighborhoods and a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine argues that gun violence functions like a disease, meaning that high-risk individuals can be predicted and reached with social services, including mental health, educational and housing services, as well as job training.

With the disheartening statistics and recent findings in mind, our team dedicated our annual APCO Gives Back day to one organization quietly making an impact in some of the hardest hit communities.

Chicago Youth Programs (CYP) is a non-profit dedicated to improving the life opportunities of at-risk youth, from birth to age 25, living in under-served communities. With more than 40 comprehensive programs in communities with some of the highest rates of youth living in poverty, CYP empowers participants to navigate the barriers that come with growing up in poverty.              

CYP’s impact is irrefutable:

  • Of 100 ninth graders, 90 graduate from high school in four years (compared to 73 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students);
  • Of those 90, 80 high school graduates enroll in four-year college degree programs (compared to only 29 of the 73 CPS students);
  • Of those 80 college enrollees, 60 earn a degree within six years (compared to 14 of the 29 CPS students enrolled).

Inspired by CYP’s work, we spent the day generating ideas to help the organization raise its local profile and reach relevant audiences, notably donors. We conducted an in-depth digital analysis of the media landscape and developed a donor questionnaire CYP can administer to understand what impacts donation decisions. In addition, we outlined tips to improve their annual report, offered suggestions for enhancing their website and social media activities and provided a best practices guide for pitching the media, identifying strong story angles.

For the second consecutive year, APCO Gives Back brought our team together to collaborate and put our skills to use to help a local organization that’s making a difference. We had fun, exercised our creativity and strengthened our teamwork abilities, and ultimately delivered CYP with an extensive report containing actionable recommendations.

To learn more about CYP, visit their website: http://chicagoyouthprograms.org/

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Anna Blyth

Anna Blyth, associate consultant based in APCO Worldwide's Chicago office, provides client services in the fields of internal communications, corporate positioning, media relations and stakeholder engagement with a focus on health care. Read More

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Emily Coghlan

Emily Coghlan, director in APCO Worldwide’s Chicago office, provides corporate positioning services, media relations and strategic communication counsel for clients. Read More