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Impact Report

Chicago’s gun violence is a public health crisis. The most violent and dangerous neighborhoods in our city remain on the south and west side. “The city’s gun-homicide rate is four times the national average with 90% of all homicides involving gun use and an overwhelming majority of the victims are young Black men”, according to research. Specifically, persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years have had the highest gun-related deaths. By utilizing a public health approach, we correctly categorize and can issue strategic deliverables that have outcomes that are attached to evidenced based programs and more importantly funding.

While playing for Tulane, I lost a teammate to senseless gun violence. Brandon Spencer’s passing leveled all of us and left me and his Fiancé and two young daughter feeling an indescribable loss. Attending his funeral opened my eyes to the work that needed to be done around this issue. When I was drafted by the Bears, I felt a calling to be a catalyst for change for young men, to offer them more than what they saw around them. For the last 10 years I have been operating under a strategic plan to prevent gun violence and to bring economic equity to Chicago’s South and West sides. Through innovative opportunities, robust engagement, and a continuum of services, our Foundation holistically supports entire families by offering character development, career exploration, wellness, and wealth building programming.

The What’s Your Forté Foundation has pledged to build our Chicago community from the inside out. Each program has a throughline of violence prevention and opportunity woven in. We are developing the next generation of leaders through strategic teaching which provides prevention, structure, and stability. The marriage between prevention and opportunity includes financial empowerment and financial literacy. Focusing on marginalized, small businesses, especially African American-owned businesses, will not only help close the racial wealth gap, but will also celebrate, serve, and strengthen the Black community. This will help recirculate profits, create more job opportunities, and garner financial stability. By coming together with your support, we can create a blueprint for successful black leaders. Investing holistically ensures the community has access to and can experience positive role models in the world and thus they can take their place as rising leaders. 

Forecasting vision and providing tangible resources youth and families can tap into; are bedrocks of our programming. As a founder, I want to be a catalyst for change that uplifts the family unit as a whole, understanding that strong families can transform culture in positive ways that last for generations to come. Our community-based strategies (summer initiative, Fellows, and opportunity programs) are making sustainable impacts. Youth face unbelievable external obstacles and do not have durable solutions. The What’s Your Forté Foundation is one of many answers to these root causes of inequity that seeks to provide change from the inside out. I look forward to working with you on these issues and expanding our collective impact. Join us in transforming the South & West sides of Chicago!

 –Matt Forté

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