Gun violence is surging in the United States. In 2020, America’s homicide rate rose by nearly 30%, the largest one-year increase in its history. The overwhelming majority of these were gun deaths. Communities of color bear both the brunt of gun violence – more young Black men die of gun homicide than the next nine leading causes combined – and society’s main response to it: aggressive policing and long prison sentences. To address this public health crisis, cities need solutions that reduce gun violence without exacerbating the harms of the criminal legal system. 

One potential solution is to provide people most at risk of gun violence – those most likely to shoot or be shot – with services to help keep themselves and others safe. The Rapid Employment and Development Initiative (READI) Chicago uses relentless street outreach to engage men 18 and older at the highest risk of gun violence in five of Chicago’s highest violence neighborhoods. It then offers these men two main sources of support: an 18-month subsidized, supported job and cognitive-behavioral programming. 

Researchers at the Crime Lab, the Inclusive Economy Lab, the University of Michigan, and Cornell University conducted a randomized controlled trial of READI. The evaluation focused on READI’s impact on participants’ involvement in serious violence. The evaluation is one of the largest and most rigorous studies to date of a community violence intervention program in the United States. 

For more information on our evaluation of READI's impact, read our NBER Working Paper (January 2023) or this short research brief (January 2023)

For more information on how we used machine learning to identify those at the highest risk of being involved in a shooting for referral to READI, read our NBER Working Paper or our policy brief (March 2021)..