CHICAGO - A very special graduation ceremony occurred Thursday night at Soldier Field.
Sixty street outreach workers and case managers graduated and will join the front-line efforts to disrupt violence in the city of Chicago.
The graduates represent 24 hyper-local social service organizations.
They have had 18 weeks of training, and they'll provide support to some of the city's highest-risk neighborhoods with the goal of stopping violence before it happens.
"They are very well-versed and very well-known and hyper-local in their communities, and so because of that, they are able to go and talk to those individuals who are either perpetrators of violence or victims of violence. And so we really respect them for their value add and how they help remedy the things that we see and hear about in our communities," said Vanessa Perry DeReef, Chief of Training, Metropolitan Peace Initiative.
The workers are called to crime scenes at any time and on any day.
"I respond to violent incidents and go out on the scene, I try to interact with family members or the victims," said James Luckes, Street Outreach Worker.
Funding for the paid positions comes from the state, county and the Department of Justice.
A number of city leaders attended Thursday's graduation to celebrate the work that those graduates are undertaking. The workers are scheduled to hit the streets soon.