KIDS OFF THE BLOCK, INC. (KOB) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit incorporated in the state of Illinois. Founded in 2003 by Diane Latiker, she opened her home to youth in her community to help them steer away from the negative influences they saw daily. KOB, has it is known, began to work with youth, teens, and young adults ages 12-24 years old. After speaking with the young people about their issues and concerns, she offered them homework help, mentoring, activities and a “safe place”. Her work with youth emphasized self-development that would lead to change. Through individual meetings and group discussions new recruits were encouraged to assess their current situation, identify skills and a knowledge base needed to achieve the goals they have targeted. Starting out with ten youth from the neighborhood, almost 14 years later, KOB has serviced over 3,000 participants since it’s inception.
The “at-risk” youth are involved in Health Workshops, Cultural Events, Educational Tutoring and celebrations in their honor for achievements and participation. The density and variety of programming invites these youngsters to come “off the streets” and become engaged in events that are conducted in a safe and caring environment.
The organization’s key objectives are:
- To create a positive environment where youth can feel free to be creative;
- To provide exposure to other cultures, ethnic groups, communities, and activities;
- To work with each youth as an individual to promote continued positive development;
- To cultivate skills and meet the needs of the young people we serve;
- To celebrate their accomplishments.
The organization reaches out to the most “at-risk” youth in Chicago, IL to provide them with access to a path that leads away from self-destruction and economic impoverishment. In order to achieve its Mission, KOB provides a multi-service youth program which focuses on those aspects of young people’s lives which promote good health, educational achievement, and personal and social growth. The organization describes itself as a “holistic care center for prevention, personal growth and empowerment.” KOB provides a safe place “off the block” especially for those young people who do not feel welcomed by traditional youth programs.
To provide at-risk, low-income youth positive alternatives to gangs, drugs, truancy, violence, and the juvenile justice system
The organizations goals are: To create a positive environment where youth can feel free to be creative. To provide exposure to other cultures, ethnic groups, communities, and activities. To work with each youth as an individual to promote development in any sustained way. To cultivate skills and meet the needs of the young people we serve, KOB provides services in three areas: social health, social inclusion and art. This includes academic enrichment, recreation, health, violence prevention, family planning, and career education. Although our services are free, it is expected that all young people involved will contribute to KOB and to the community. To celebrate their accomplishments, we work with youth to emphasize change and empowerment. Upon arriving at the organization, youth are asked to develop a total person plan which outlines how they plan to use our services and what they hope to achieve. Young people are actively involved in all operations of KOB from program planning to design to actual implementation. Many of our youth are trained as peer counselors, they assist with discussion groups and counseling. Youth also teach classes in music, dance, poetry, health, gang/violence prevention and soft skills, many are also employed by KOB in summer and work as receptionist, program assistants and can earn Community Service Learning Hours. KOB partner/collaborates with many area service organizations in order to accomplish the organization’s goals.
Kids Off The Block and it’s collaborative partners Blue 1647 / Strides For Peace have come together for the launching of a joint venture called the “TEC Center”. (Technology, Entrepreneurialship, and Career Center). The TEC Center will launch in September 2017. We have realized that the young people we service need Careers, not just jobs!
What is “The TEC Center”?
The “TEC Center is the launch of a career readiness project of Kids off the Block (KOB) to prepare our youth and young adults to become equipped for emerging career opportunities through technology, and entrepreneurship.
The TEC Center will consist of 10-12 week programs for youth/young adults ages 15-24 years old. They will participate in hands on training in coding and entrepreneurial workshops. We anticipate servicing 250 youth per year, along with wraparound services for youth in hardship situations.
KOB Summer Basketball League
In Partnership with the Ray & Joan Kroc Center
The program will host 300 youth (5th-8th) grades and high school from all over the city of Chicago, IL.