Join Ashley Kennedy for an in-depth discussion in this video Arne Duncan explains how CRED works, part of Arne Duncan Interview: Education and Reducing Violence.
- So, I always say that programs don't change lives, it's relationships, this is all relationship-based. And we've been blessed to have many extraordinary people working with our guys, but at the top of the list I would put our life coaches. Our life coaches, some of whom have come from this life, some of whom have more social work backgrounds, but all have just committed themselves to walking with guys every step of the way. And that leadership, that mentorship, that friendship has been unbelievable.
And in good times it's great, but there've been times when we've had guys shot and think about retaliation. And thanks to their life coaches, and thanks to their peers that didn't happen. And you can't put a price on what that's done to keep folks alive. So, the relationship piece of this is huge. The structure of CRED continues to evolve. So, in the first 15, 16 months of our existence, we worked with six different cohorts of guys starting at different times, three south side, three west side.
Cohorts generally being between 20 and 30. The idea of guys coming together and supporting each other is extraordinarily powerful. And in not all, but in many of our cohorts, we've brought together guys from different gangs, from different cliques. We've had instances where we have had guys who previously were shooting at each other working together and working through those tough issues. It's hugely important. And it's interesting, we're always working on different things, so we're always thinking about sorta the more traditional job skills, being on time, conflict resolution, shaking hands, looking people in the eye, how to have a good work ethic, how to work with peers, and colleagues, and work with a boss.
All that's really important, but I never wanna understate that, but a lot of what we're doing is helping guys come to terms with what they've been through. And the level of trauma, the amount of grief, the challenges they've faced, not just in the last year or two but often from birth, I think it's hard for folks to really understand. And so, the chance to express yourself, the chance to talk it out, whether it's through therapy, and we do individual counseling and group stuff, whether it's through artistic expression, whether it's through writing their autobiographies, that's, I would argue again, as important if not more important than being on time and shaking hands.
And I think sometimes when you work through some of that stuff, it puts you in a position, and it unlocks that potential. And I've just seen how powerful, how liberating it is for guys to tell their own stories, and to own them. And that process is painful, and it's hard, and they're sometimes pretty resistant at first to do that. Not all have loved going to school and writing down stuff, and not a lot of our guys who spend a lot of time talking about their feelings and expressing them, but being able to tell their truths and articulate those, and do it in such a honest and real way has been transformative, and again, as important if not more important than anything else we've done.