Kids Off The Block
managed by D. Latiker
KIDS OFF THE BLOCK, INC. (KOB) is a non-profit corporation founded by Diane Latiker in 2003. It is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service under code 501(c) 3. .
Kids Off The Block is known to the community as "KOB." Services are focused on “at-risk” youth in the Pullman/Roseland Community Area, a low-to-moderate income community located on the far south side of Chicago. The Community Area includes part of three political wards, Roseland, West Pullman, and Pullman.
• 94.8% of the population is African-American;
• 12.5% have a college degree;
• 20.2% have not completed high school;
• 43.1% are unemployed;
• 37.5% of the population lives below the poverty level;
• 26.3% of the families are headed by women.
Behind these bulleted demographic statistics lurks a minefield of factors that militate towards the development of “at-risk” youth in the Pullman Community Area. For a youth living in a home below the poverty level, in a family headed by a woman, and with no employed or minimally employed adult almost guarantees the youngster’s designation as “at-risk.
The home and family life of “at-risk” youth are often disrupted by the harsh realities of hard poverty. Often there are issues of “serial fathers” who are resented by older male youth or a possible threat to young girls. Domestic violence becomes a constant in the experiences of these families. Drug use is often the resort of depressed and overwhelmed parents. Family events and celebrations exist only by imperiling the household budget for the balance of the month.
To offset these budget crunches mothers may attempt employment. Decent paying jobs are few and far between. If they do exist they are located in distant neighborhoods at an hour and a half or more from the home. If an extended family is not available, the youth are pressed into taking care of younger children. Especially for the young men in these homes there exists no teacher, no mentor, and no reliable role model. The youth rebels against his mother and sets out to find his own source of income and a coterie of friends that will provide him with a sort of safety on the streets.
Un-doctored statistics suggest that upwards of 76% of these youth drop out of high school or are “no-shows” for high school after grade school graduation. The streets are a “finishing school” for them. To fulfill the need for some sort of safety and structure, and to feel a sense of belonging “at-risk” youth often turn to gangs. Gangs lead to the drug trade and often to drug use and other crime. At the same time, gang rivalry leads to the dangers of being shot on the streets. According to Chicago Police statistics there have been 20 youth murders in the Pullman Community Area over the past six months. Shootings occur on a regular if not daily basis. Robbery is a daily occurrence. Burglary is rampant.
The systems such as Grammar Schools, Park Districts, and High Schools in the immediate neighborhoods of Pullman/Roseland Community Area offer a rather bare menu of services for youngsters.
Most of the “at-risk” youth have rarely if ever left the environs of their community. They would be lost in the hustle and bustle of the Loop. Cultural events that happen in many of the Wards of the city are none-existent in their community. If events do occur safe transportation to and from the events becomes an issue. The school system cannot afford the effort to maintain youth in school. Many of the teenage youth cannot read at a sixth grade level. The High Schools consider expulsion as the best solution to many problematic behaviors. Gang rivalry and “clicks” (groups of youth from various gangs who work together to intimidate non-committed youngsters) are an additional challenge to any youth with an interest in education.