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Lawrence Hall in Chicago celebrated 150 years of service in 2015. During that time they have developed an extensive history of successfully working with youth in residential care, foster care, as well as transitional and independent living programs. Many of the youth that they serve in these settings have previous justice system involvement. Additionally, they are well versed in providing educational experiences by operating a fully licensed and accredited therapeutic day school.
As the case managing organization for most of the youth that they serve, Lawrence Hall also has a significant history in coordinating services, linkage to services and educational and legal advocacy on the youth’s behalf. They have also managed a youth-run deli, TryMe’s for over 20 years, offering youth hands on culinary work experience. The agency currently operates a youth-run café at the University of Chicago.
Over the past five years Workforce Development grew to be a focal point of the agency. This includes maintaining their long standing relationship with After School Matters through the City, offering two summer internship programs (gardening and culinary arts) and culinary apprenticeship program to local high school students. In 2012 Lawrence Hall partnered with DCFS to pilot MY TIME to youth in DCFS care. MY TIME is a trauma-informed, treatment approach to career readiness, job placement and job retention program. MY TIME has doubled the number of youth served annually since 2012 and has received 100% on two straight contract monitoring reviews. In 2013 MY TIME was presented at the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals: Youth Symposium. In 2015 the MY TIME program earned accreditation as a model workforce development program from the Council on Accreditation.
In the past year and a half, the agency increased their emphasis on prevention services and youth leadership. In 2016 the agency moved its Foster Care, Older Adolescent and Workforce Development program from a Downtown Chicago location into Southside Chicago neighborhoods. These moves were done as a strategic effort to better meet the needs of the children, families and community Lawrence Hall serves. The Foster Care program was moved to Auburn Gresham, and the Older Adolescent Program and Workforce Development programs were moved to Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood. In 2015 the agency CEO and VP became Fellows of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University. Lawrence Hall then partnered with the Chicago Department of Family Support Services to offer two separate diversion efforts, RISE and One Summer Chicago+ while hiring a Youth Leadership and Volunteer Supervisor and a Youth Leadership Specialist to enhance their focus on youth leadership, diversion, civic engagement and volunteer opportunities for the youth that they serve. LH’s history and network of partners have placed them in a position to successfully implement the Right Turn program.