Outreach Worker
at Heartland Alliance

Date Posted: 1/13/2020

Job Description

Summary:   Heartland Alliance coordinates READI (Rapid Employment and Development Initiative) Chicago, a network of community-based organizations on Chicago’s South and West Sides that engages individuals at the highest risk of becoming victims or perpetrators of gun violence in an 18-month wage-subsidized transitional job (TJ) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program, followed by up to six months of follow-up case management and coaching support.  The goals of READI Chicago are to: decrease shootings and homicides among those at highest risk of gun violence; create new opportunities for these same individuals to change their life trajectory and decrease their involvement with the criminal justice system; and help build an infrastructure at the community level to promote long-term safety and opportunity in Chicago’s most impoverished communities. 

The University of Chicago Crime and Poverty Labs leads the program evaluation; Heartland Alliance also partners with the City of Chicago, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, and the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC). This initiative launched in the fall of 2017 in Austin and West Garfield Park, North Lawndale, and Greater Englewood.

Under the direction of READI Chicago’s Senior Director, the Program Officer is responsible for attending meetings with the Senior Director and supporting him with preparation, follow-up and next steps for those meetings. In addition, the Program Officer is responsible for specific projects and program managment. The position requires an individual with exceptional problem-solving and organizational skills and the ability to work effectively with a diverse workforce. This person will be energetic, flexible, collaborative, and proactive -- a team member who positively and productively supports the programmatic and operational success of this initiative. Individual accountabilities and work volume will be established through the development of annual Success Objectives, within the framework outlined below.


Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Relentlessly engages participants through outreach and referrals from partner institutions including Cook County Jail, Illinois Department of Corrections and the Crime Labs at University of Chicago or other approved organizations. Outreach includes frequent attempts and contact with participants through home visits, street level engagement, relationship building activities, prison or jail visits
  • Practices relentless outreach to ensure continued participant involvement in READI Chicago
  • Works with manager and other support networks to identify potential participants who are the highest risk individuals
  • Carries a caseload of participants
  • Utilizes trauma informed approaches and practices to support participants; establishes constructive relationships with participants as a positive role model; facilitates conversations that are participant driven and utilizes restorative practices in all interactions with participants
  • Serves as a general advocate for participants; provides mentoring and supportive case management services to participants in collaboration with TJ partner
  • Works hand in hand with the transitional job provider staff and the READI Chicago Community Project Manager to support participants’ success in READI Chicago. This includes, but is not limited to, acting as support staff by attending cognitive behavioral groups, being present during morning check-in, assisting crew chiefs at work sites, etc.
  • Ensures timely information about potential and current participants and their safety is clearly identified and communicated, both verbally and in writing, to team members and manager, transitional job provider staff and the READI Chicago Community Project Manager. This includes but is not limited to participation in hot spot mapping, work crew site selection, providing information in ongoing case reviews, completing paperwork to connect participants to TJ Orientation, etc.
  • Prepares and submits reports per contract and as requested by Manager
  • Enters timely program information into appropriate data management system; documents detailed case notes and other items as assigned
  • Attends regular staff meetings, partner meetings, one on one supervision meetings, community meetings as instructed by Manager
  • Participates in all mandatory trainings and undertakes any training and professional development as required to ensure effective work
  • Outreach to the community (individually and as a team member) to build strong relationships with youth, residents, businesses, and community groups
  • Develops and delivers one-to-one support sessions with participants that support conflict resolution and adoption of prosocial behaviors
  • Provides linkages and supports for individuals to enhance their use of opportunities and programs in the community (job programs, GED, drug treatment, mentoring, etc.)
  • Facilitates proper referrals and supportive case management for court advocacy, school enrollment, counseling, substance abuse services, employment, job training, etc.
  • Participates in media opportunities as requested
  • Other duties as assigned


Qualifications:  To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.


  • High School Diploma/GED and minimum of two -years of formal employment experience working with high-risk, street-involved required

  • Bachelor’s degree preferred; Associates Degree or 60 credit hours from an accredited institution highly desired

  • Excellent verbal communication skills and ability to communicate effectively in writing

  • Computer literacy commensurate to complete job duties

  • Demonstrated initiative in community involvement

  • Has shown concrete steps in advancing their lives, in education, employment or recovery and well-being

  •  Experience or training in crisis intervention preferred

  • Experience working on a team

  • Ability to demonstrate empathy with participants and effectiveness in engaging target population

  • Basic understanding of root causes of violence


  • Adherence to READI Chicago’s model, philosophy and approaches, policies and procedures

  • Elevates the field of Street Outreach by modeling professional behavior and honoring commitments

  • Attend field related trainings which will include, but not limited to, peace circles, trauma informed care, Motivational interviewing, conflict mediation

  • Possesses a valid Illinois driver’s license, insurance, and good driving record

  • Participate in self-care sessions

  • Has no pending criminal cases

  • Ability to work one-on-one and in groups with high-risk individuals to resolve conflicts and promote prosocial behaviors

  • Willingness to work on the street and in other unstructured situations

  • Willing to work late nights and on weekends

  • Exhibits emotional maturity; good judgment; integrity; tolerance of differing points of view and beliefs; commitment to nonviolence

  • Willingness to work in collaboration with external partners

  • Works closely with READI Chicago Community Project Manager, TJ partner staff, and other stakeholders

  • Willingness to be trained in cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and trauma-informed care and applying those principles in daily work

  • Commitment to the mission and values of READI Chicago, as demonstrated by a professional approach that is strength-based, trauma-informed, inclusive, and grounded in human rights

Directly supervises the Environmental Control Technician.  Responsibilities include interviewing, hiring, and training; planning, assigning, and directing work; appraising performance; rewarding and disciplining employees; addressing complaints and resolving problems.Directly supervises the Environmental Control Technician.  Responsibilities include interviewing, hiring, and training; planning, assigning, and directing work; appraising performance; rewarding and disciplining employees; addressing complaints and resolving problems.


Physical Demands: The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to talk and hear. 

  • The employee is frequently required to use hands to key, handle, or feel and reach with hands and arms. 

  • The employee is regularly required to sit, stand and walk. 

  • The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 10 pounds.

  • Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision and ability to adjust focus.

    Work Environment:  The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

    • The noise in the work environment is moderate

    • This position requires travel to various program sites

      He a rtland Allia nce makes all hiring and employment decisions, and ope r ates all programs, services, and funct ions without regard to race, receipt of an order of protection, cre ed, color, age, gender, gender identi ty, marital or parental status, religion, ancestry, national origin, amnesty, physical or mental disability, protected veterans status, genetic information, sexual orientation, immigrant status, political affiliation or belief, use of FMLA, VESSA, military, and fami ly military rights, e x-offender status (depending on the offense and position to be filled), unfavorable military discharge, membership in an organization whose primary purpose is the protection of civil rights or improvement of l iv ing conditions and human relations, height, we ight, or HIV infection, in accord wi th the organization's AIDS Policy Statemen t of September 1987.

Job Snapshot

  • Employee Type: Full-Time
  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Job Type: Other
  • Experience: Not Specified
  • Date Posted: 1/13/2020

About Us

It’s more than a job, it’s a purpose.

Heartland Alliance—the leading anti-poverty organization in the Midwest— believes that all of us deserve the opportunity to improve our lives. Each year, we help ensure this opportunity for nearly one million people around the world who are homeless, living in poverty, or seeking safety. Our multicultural staff are passionate about our mission and make Heartland Alliance a dynamic and exciting place to develop your career.

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