The Inner Voice

"A Voice for Self-Reliance"

On June 6th, over 160 students from all of Malcolm X College's GED classes participated in their annual graduation ceremony at Malcolm X College. The Inner Voice Learning Center's GED class, which operates as an extension site of Malcolm X College, had fourteen graduates. Malcolm X College President, Zerrie Campbell, spoke and presented certificates to the graduates. Many of Inner Voice's graduates have enrolled as college students at Malcolm X and Harold Washington College. Pictured are two 1996 graduates, Steve Briggins and Jennifer Looney. Mr. Briggins, a resident of Inner Voice's Veteran's Housing Program, passed his test in May and is now working and preparing to start college this fall. Ms. Looney passed her test last fall, is currently finishing up a job-readiness program sponsored by Catholic Charities and is looking for full-time employment.

The Inner Voice was founded by Reverend Robert Johnson in 1984 as a drop-in center and soup kitchen for Chicago's homeless. As he saw the same faces day after day, Reverend Johnson soon realized that he needed to shift the focus of his efforts toward teaching self sufficiency. In 1991 he reorganized to meet two primary goals: first, to increase the level of participation of disadvantaged groups in the economic, educational and cultural institutions in their communities, and second, to develop strategies for building self-sufficiency, initiative and leadership among its participants.

Today, Inner Voice consists of five major programs: the Learning Center, located at 1600 West Lake Street; the Second Stage Housing Program, a long term residential program for homeless men; the Veteran's Housing Program, a long term residential program for homeless veterans; the Chicago Housing Authority/Inner Voice House Watch program, which provides transitional housing and employment for the homeless; and the Representative Payee program, a program designed to help SSI recipients make the best use of their income to become self-sufficient. Currently serving over 1400 homeless individuals annually, Inner Voice provides a beacon of hope for those wishing to achieve self-sufficiency.

The Learning Center serves as the corporate headquarters and serves as the central intake facility for clients requesting agency services. All educational programs are housed at the Learning Center. Inner Voice presently offers computer classes combined with a general office skills class, literacy and GED courses, job readiness courses and a weekly money management seminar. Recognizing the complex issues associated with homelessness, Inner Voice also provides comprehensive support services, including housing assistance, employment referrals and placements, resume assistance, medical referrals, HIV testing, counseling, life-skills training, free clothes, and mail service.