Position Description

Community Organizer, READI Chicago
Location Chicago - Loop
Job Code O464
# of Openings 1
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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 12-month wage-subsidized transitional job (TJ) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program which includes case management, coaching support, and other wrap around services.  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.



About the Position:

This is a full-time position that focuses on developing meaningful relationships with individuals and communities most impacted by gun violence and criminal justice system in efforts to address directly on policy issues that impact this this population.


The organizer is responsible for building relationships with advocacy groups and activists throughout Illinois and attending relevant meetings that will advance our agenda. In addition, the organizer is responsible for specific projects and program management related to coordinated trainings, political meetings and relevant work. 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 self-motivate - a team member who positively and productively supports the programmatic and operational success of this initiative.  Additionally, this person will have strong leadership skills, with demonstrated willingness and ability to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction when necessary and appropriate.


Individual accountabilities and work volume will be established through the development of annual success objectives, within the framework outlined below. 


Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

Primary duties include, but not limited to, the following.


General responsibilities: 

  • Identify, train, and develop community leaders through outreach, recruitment, education and training.
  • Strategize with READI Chicago and HA policy team to achieve the best outcomes possible related to advancing policy on issues related to program priorities as it relates to violence prevention and criminal justice reform.
  • Develop and maintain consistent committee meetings and other member engagement activities for community members/leaders (staff, participants or allies) focused on strategies and learned lessons surrounding READI Chicago program priorities and participant support.
  • Create and cultivate relationships with key stakeholders, organizations and coalitions committed to working on campaigns that directly impact and/ or support READI Chicago program and HA policy priorities and participants.
  • Participate/leadership in coalitions and campaigns specific to Alliance for Safety and Justice and Heartland Alliance-wide projects and initiatives on behalf of READI Chicago and HA policy.
  • Work closely with READI Chicago’s Director of Learning & Performance to develop and implement trainings for new member engagement as well as continued professional development for staff/ members.
  • Regularly complete and report to key stakeholders and team projects and performance outcomes related to community organizing activities.
  • Performs other job-related duties as assigned.
  • Demonstrated commitment to Heartland Alliance’s mission, Philosophy of Care, and READI Chicago’s goals.
  • Bachelor’s Degree and three years of combined related experience in project management, community organizing, criminal justice, social work, sociology, and/or public health is preferred.
  • Strong community organizing skills, including the ability to build people power and achieve outcomes around issues related to violence prevention and criminal justice reform.
  • Exposure to/previous work experience with a not-for-profit environment and/or direct service agency preferred.
  • Critical systems thinker – the ability to identify the strengths and weaknesses of issues, develop and implement solution processes for resolution that are related to systems change and advocacy. 
  • Strong organizational skills and ability to manage multiple deadlines, projects, and activities.
  • Comfort with social media and digital communication preferred
  • Comfort with ambiguity; experience working as part of a growing initiative and in a fast-paced environment.
  • Comfort with data; ability to use data to inform organizing priorities and strategies.
  • Deeply loyal and a steel trap with confidential information.
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite
  • Possess a valid IL driver’s license and regular access to a vehicle (frequent local/in-state travel required).
  • Able to work flexible hours.




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


Heartland Alliance makes all hiring and employment decisions, and operates all programs, services, and functions without regard to race, receipt of an order of protection, creed, color, age, gender, gender identity, 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 family military rights, ex-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 living conditions and human relations, height, weight, or HIV infection, in accord with the organization's AIDS Policy Statement of September 1987.




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