FOX 32 `Tipping Point` special garners encouraging response - Dallas News |

FOX 32 `Tipping Point` special garners encouraging response

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Wednesday night's FOX 32 Special Report on violence took a comprehensive look at the epidemic that has Chicago at the tipping point. The half hour program has a lot of people talking about solutions to what's going on in many of our neighborhoods, where citizens really need all of us to get involved.

From the gangbangers who gave us a rare look at their lives to families just trying to stay safe and raise their kids, we saw how we all pay the price for violence filling up our jails and giving our city a bad name at a staggering cost - in both money and humanity.

Watching in our newsroom and talking with viewers on our Facebook page were two women who are doing something about it each in her own way.

"For the last 10 years we've helped young people, from buying coats and shoes, to taking them to school, to feeding them, washing their clothes, to getting them outta gangs, to letting them find someplace to stay if they're homeless," Diane Latiker from Kids Off the Block says of her company's goals.

"The key is to not just fund programs, although we will fund programs, but it's to really have systems change," says Toni Irving of Get in Chicago. "How do we make a difference not at the program level, but at the population level?"

Toni Irving, a former deputy for Governor Quinn, was just named executive director of a $50 million fund - by private corporate donors - to turn things around in violence plagued neighborhoods.

Places like Roseland, where Diane Latiker started Kids Off the Block a decade ago, giving young people a place to learn, play, and just be a kid with a caring adult. Kids Off the Block seems like a prime candidate for some of the "Get In" money - but the bar is high.

"People need to invest, just like anyone, like any investment, right?" Iriving says. "You wanna know you're gonna get a return on your investment, and we need to understand where to put the dollars."

Measuring the outcomes and crunching the numbers with experts at the University of Chicago's crime lab to make sure the money makes a real, lasting difference.

After all, the Get In Chicago fund was announced with the first lady during a visit home this year and the White House will be watching.

"It's a win-win in that, not only will we have impact in communities, but then we'll have outcomes to talk about, that could really become a model for other urban areas throughout the country," Irving continues.

But in the trenches, Diane Latiker can hardly keep up with the murders at the Kids Off the Block Memorial, which displays one brick for each young person killed.

"How do I explain to you this kid that sat on my doorstep and couldn't go home, because he was afraid of the gang that was in front of his house? Who slept on my couch, whose clothes I washed, um who I got back into school?" Latiker says.

Irving says funding decisions will consider the challenges of grassroots anti-violence efforts, and some money is set aside for innovative ideas that haven't even been tried yet.

Both women say the online conversation during last night's "Tipping Point" special gave them hope.

"I think everybody's aware now," Latiker adds. "The And I think everybody wants to know, what can we do?"

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