One of the most unknown and underappreciated non-profit community-based organizations in Chicago is Phalanx Family Services. The agency has operated programs in Chicago’s distressed black communities since 2002, providing workforce solutions to people and families with no to low-income who have barriers to employment, such as long-term under/unemployment, functional illiteracy, criminal backgrounds, and drug addiction. Phalanx services are available to all City of Chicago and neighboring suburban residents. It is important to note that this agency operates in a city where, in 2016, there were 4378 people shot, 795 killed and, of those, only 138 individuals charged; I’m Just Saying.
To me, the most impressive thing about this Chicago group is their holistic approach to service delivery. The following is a summary of the programs and services this close-knit body of people at Phalanx offers to their clientele:
Next Step One Stop is a Returning Citizen initiative that links Returning Citizens to vital core services that they are eligible for but may not be aware of. Essential documents ( State I.D, Birth Certificate and Social Security Card ) are mandatory for the individual to secure employment, apply for food stamps and housing, etc. Phalanx’s staff helps the individual travel the bureaucratic landscape to make sure these essential documents don’t become barriers to employment, housing and self sufficiency.
RISE ( Restoring Individuals through Supportive Environments ) is a youth program that serves young people 14 -18 years old. In collaboration with the Chicago Police Department, the Juvenile Intervention and Support Center, the Juvenile Court System and neighborhood community stakeholders, RISE is a six (6) month diversion program designed to be an alternative to the justice system. While education is a focal point of the program, youth participate in a mix of classroom learning and community activities focused on coping skills, rites of passage, conflict resolution and anger management. Service learning credit hours, applicable toward CPS graduation is available.
Student Outreach and Re-Engagement Center (SOAR) focuses on re-engaging chronically truant and out of school youth by providing mentoring, counseling, and advocacy services.
CYEP ( Community Youth Employment Program ) focuses on job readiness training thru paid work experience assignments with public and private industry employers for in and out of school youth age 16 – 24. The ultimate goal is to secure part and full time job placement for opportunity-limited youth, both in and out of school.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a job-placement driven initiative for individuals, ages 18-49, receiving food stamps and referred thru the Department of Human Services (DHS).
Work First is a DHS program for people who receive food stamp and cash benefits. They are required to complete 20-35 hours of work-related activities to earn their benefits. The goal of this program is full-time job placement with benefits.
The Basic Nursing Assistant Training Program is a Community Development Block Grant initiative that trains individuals to become state certified Nurse’s Aides. Phalanx’s long-term relationships established with the hospital and nursing industries enables graduates placement into full-time, permanent employment.
Senior Community Employment Program (SCSEP) is a part-time stipend program for seniors who are 55 and older. Participants earn a salary while working for community-based organizations in a variety of jobs from clerical to janitorial in Chicago.
Ticket To Work is a job placement driven initiative thru the Social Security Administration that targets SSI and SSDI recipients for placement in part-time and full-time employment.
Bridging the Digital Divide offers people, no matter their age, the opportunity to develop computer savvy with basic computer literacy instruction.
Ride To Work is an immediate job placement initiative for Re-entering Citizens ( men and women with criminal backgrounds who have had involvement with the criminal justice system ) , which places them with suburban companies where transportation is challenging. Phalanx partners with, and arranges transportation to and from the business. These candidates for hire are put to work regardless of their criminal background issues!
A core component of the programming at Phalanx is the job readiness instruction. Through a series of classes, clients in all the programs become prepared for job interviews and work place expectations, enabling them to succeed at obtaining and sustaining employment!
The attractive and unique quality about Phalanx is the leadership of CEO Mrs. Robbie (Tina) Sanders and the Director of Operations, Laura Bailey. Both of these strong-willed women believe in empowerment programming over entitlement services. The program reflects a job-placement-driven philosophy that any conservative or Republican could embrace.
Visit Phalanx Family Services online at ( phalanxgrpservices.org ), or visit their office at 837 W. 119th Street in Chicago to see for yourself how a small organization is making a big difference!
Opinion by James Cannon
Edited by Cathy Milne
Phalanx Family Services: Programs
Image Courtesy of Mariano Mantel’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License