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On August 24th, 1992, the first edition of StreetWise hit the streets of Chicago.

The founder, Judd Lofchie, found a practical solution to the crisis of homelessness in Chicago. 

StreetWise’s Vision

The idea was simple; give homeless men and women a chance to gain economic self-sufficiency, personal dignity, and help themselves. All this by selling a newspaper to earn and income rather than beg. 

More than 350 homeless men and women purchased and sold more than 60,000 issues of StreetWise within the first 5 weeks!.

The vendors buy the magazine for 90 cents each and sell for $2, keeping the profit.

StreetWise’s Mission

The StreetWise mission is to empower the entrepreneurial spirit through the dignity of self-employment. As a result, it provides Chicagoans facing homelessness with a combination of supportive social services, workforce development resources, and immediate access to gainful employment. It focuses on immediate income, job readiness and placement services, supportive employment, and financial and computer literacy. Streetwise provides individuals who are willing to work with, a stable foundation. So they can move themselves out of the crisis of poverty.

The Secret behind the success

One of the reasons that StreetWise has been so successful in helping in crisis: the great network of volunteers. They share their time, energy, and expertise. Its staff have received numerous national, state, and local awards for the quality of StreetWise offerings. Its service to the homeless population of Chicago, and its importance to the community in general.

Reporters and contributors include professional journalists, journalism students, and StreetWise vendors…

The magazine covers topics that can be defined as “socially conscious and Chicago-centric” . It reports on areas of homelessness, poverty and social reform as well as Chicago art, culture and more.

StreetWise magazine’s vendors go out each day to greet their loyal customers. Since it is because of their support that they can pay rent, utilities, purchase food and clothing, and even save some money.

If you’re homeless, it’s very difficult to just get up, clean yourself up and apply for a job and start earning an income immediately, so this is a viable option.

JULIE YOUNGQUIST, Streetwise CEO

To sell the paper, one must go through an orientation. It has to explain panhandling laws, responsibilities and the company’s code of conduct. After passing a post-orientation test, vendors are given a temporary badge and a location to sell at. They give them also a stack of 15 free magazines to sell for $2 each.

To this end, StreetWise will assure that, by giving any person who is willing to work a stable foundation from which they can move themselves out of crisis, no one will find it necessary to beg in order to survive.

You may not have saved a lot of money in your life, but if you have saved a lot of heartaches for other folks, you are a pretty rich man. 

~~Seth Parker

by Fatima Zahra Biglimine
Fatima Zahra is a blogger and Social Media Manager who helps entrepreneurs and NGO’s generate qualified content & make an audience in the virtual world.

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