How it all began...
It’s hard to believe that the first edition of StreetWise hit the streets of Chicago on August 24th, 1992. Our founder, Judd Lofchie, found a practical solution to the crisis of homelessness in Chicago. The idea was simple: give homeless individuals a chance to regain personal dignity and help themselves by selling a newspaper to earn an income rather than beg. More than 350 homeless individuals purchased and sold more than 60,000 issues of StreetWise within the first 5 weeks! Just like that Chicago joined the street paper movement.
The magazines gives a voice to those who experience homelessness, poverty, injustice and inequality, along with features about Chicago life and culture.
StreetWise magazine is a proud member of the International Network of Street Papers and leader among street papers in the United States. We are also a proud member of the Chicago Independent Media Alliance.
Its staff have received numerous national, state, and local awards for the quality of StreetWise articles, its service to the homeless population of Chicago, and its importance to the community in general. Reporters and contributors include professional journalists, journalism students, StreetWise vendors, as well as clients from other Chicago area social service organizations.
StreetWise provides a flexible employment opportunity via the sales of StreetWise magazine. The magazine vendors build relationships and create connections between and across communities that change perceptions about homeless and low-income individuals.
Selling StreetWise is a job. Our vendors are self-employed entrepreneurs. The are running their own businesses.
Our success is due to the commitment, dedication, and persistence of our StreetWise magazine vendors. They go out each day to greet you – their loyal customers. It is because of your support that our vendors can pay rent, utilities, purchase food and clothing, and even save some money.
The S.T.E.P. is our employment preparation and placement program aimed at helping individuals get ready for a job, get a job, and keep a job. Our customized approach helps individuals eliminate barriers and overcome obstacles to traditional employment.
Across the organization, StreetWise strives to build community and honor the dignity of each individual. We address basic needs by distributing emergency clothing, hygiene kits, and providing meals and pantry items. Currently we are a primary source for essential PPE for our vendors and job seekers. Staff are available to assist with accessing community resources and benefits, referrals for housing, healthcare or legal assistance, and providing emergency support.
StreetWise is Empowering People to Work!
In March 2020 StreetWise became part of YWCA Metropolitan Chicago’s portfolio of comprehensive human services.