Work is a gift from God that brings dignity, and all image-bearers of God need opportunities to add value to the earth and have dominion over it through work. At Harambee, youth age 12-18 are trained in biblical work ethic and given dignity through job training. Work is also an opposing force to the violence that can rule our neighborhoods as youth are given an opportunity to find value and dignity in Harambee and the church, which some youth previously have experienced in part through negative behaviors, such as gang affiliation.


The City

Harambee Chicago is a job training ministry modeled after a successful ministry in St. Louis. Harambee is a Swahili word meaning, “Let’s pull together!” it’s a call to unity, which is something our divided city needs. We provide job training to youth though classroom training and practical hands on experience on our volunteer projects in the community. Our youth participants volunteer rebuilding and restoring their own communities through providing tuckpointing free to all homeowners who qualify. It’s amazingly powerful to see young people at work rebuilding communities where violence and neglect have been the norm– and especially redemptive for older neighbors who gain new hope for their community as they see a new generation bringing restoration.

What's Broken?

The Neighborhood: Humboldt Park - Chicago, Illinois

  • Income
  • Average yearly income is $13,108 while the state average is $52,801.
  • 32.6% of households are below the poverty level.
  • Crime
  • During December 2013, Humboldt Park ranked 17th (of 77) in violent crimes, and 7th in quality of life crimes wih the highest number being narcotics charges.
  • Employment
  • 12.3% of residents over 16 are unemployed.
  • Common careers for residents are in service, sales, production and construction.
  • Education
  • Local, Orr Academic High School has been ranked 667 among 677 high schools by Chicago Sun-Times.
  • Orr's graduation rate is 53.4 %.

Bringing Restoration

How does work address the brokenness?

Work is one of God’s good gifts and was part of the perfect creation before the fall. Work is part of the experience of being an image-bearer of God, which is why the lack of opportunities for work greatly damage neighborhoods and even nations where work is not available. It should come as no surprise that some of our most violent neighborhoods are also plagued with chronic unemployment.

One barrier to obtaining employment is work experience. Harambee Chicago is able to provide practical training, and meaningful experience through our volunteer community service projects. Youth blossom as they rise up to the challenge of providing tuckpointing. They develop so many new valuable traits and skills (teamwork, perseverance, leadership, communication as well as tuckpointing) which they will take to any future profession.

Isaiah 2:4—They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.

How do our youth bring restoration?

One of the most beautiful things about Harambee is that not only do Chicago youth experience God’s restoration in their lives through the dignity and hope that work offers, our youth bring restoration to their own neighborhood through their community service. When young people, bent on doing wrong bring destruction to their neighborhoods, homeowners, especially seniors can feel trapped and hopeless. In contrast, when young people unite to restore their neighborhood, and take special care of seniors and low-income homeowners, they fuel a hope that is powerful.

Isaiah 58:12—Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.