HOPE Technology and Education Center is housed inside the Hope Presbyterian Church. There, a new program called "Bridges to the Future" is using computers to help curb violence.
The program serves as a safe haven for neighborhood children. The young participants learn survival techniques by working through real-life scenarios that could have deadly consequences- and finding alternative ways to react.
Leaders say the students seem to be getting the message.
"It's about us as little kids trying to stop violence everywhere," said Percy Moore, 11.
"We learn about stopping violence and education and learning more about the Bible," said Dyamond Leroy, 11.
While violence prevention is the goal- computers are the draw. Students learn valuable technology skills, and as an added incentive, every family receives a new laptop for free upon completion of the program.
The computers are funded by the Chicago Area Project. The two organizations have collaborated to find creative ways to engage youth in violence prevention.
"It's great for us to give them this computer training. It's great for them to be here for this nine-month program, but we thought, how about if at the end of the program they're able to take a computer home, one per household, where they are able to do some of the same things that we're doing here. Where they are able to compete with other kids in school who already have the advantage," said Julie Collier, executive director, HOPE Technology and Education Center.
"If people continue to see violence, they will continue to repeat that cycle. So it was our concept that we start early trying to help these young people break that cycle," said Reverend Leslie Sanders Sr., founder, HOPE Technology and Education Center.