A. Allen: Evolution

By: A. Allen January 27, 2020

The incredible, evolving StreetWise organization and those diligent, awesome and respectful vendors, yeah, you've come a long ways, baby, as they used to say in the Virginia Slims cigarette commercial. From being a monthly Chicago street paper purchased by the vendor for a quarter and sold for a dollar, to empowering the homeless through employment, the StreetWise Transitional Employment Program (STEP).


Yeah, the most common early sales pitch was "Can you help the homeless?" Yeah, the organization started out slowly--but it went surely. Some 27 years ago, many homeless or near-homeless Chicagoans found refuge and safety in earning an honest living. Since then, we became a magazine that helps our people rise from homelessness (or near-homelessness), and we've become, and are becoming, entrepreneurs. We have become independent contractors with a hand up--not a hand out. Yes, we have evolved into being a distributor of the very informative StreetWise magazine, which pertains to Chicago, as well as to international, news.


Today, we are connected globally through the International Network of Street Papers, based in Glasgow, Scotland. There are over 100 street papers similar to StreetWise in 35 nations and 25 languages. Roughly 8,750 vendors are selling street papers at any one time. Yeah, you've come a long ways, baby; not only that, living with a hand-up and not a hand-out means StreetWise is a stepping stone to better things such as the STEP Program, which offers a shot at a conventional 9 to 5 job. It, also, offers vendors a real chance at becoming self-reliant. Vendors get a real shot at becoming successful, self-employed entrepreneurs.


We are, also, evolving with the cashless society. We have credit card payments, as well as Venmo. In the year 2020, we are expecting exciting things to happen. Some creative things. With the advent of social media, StreetWise and its vendors have come a long ways in a number of aspects. Not only are we bridging the gap in the social realm, we, also, support a magazine that is full-out quality, and is very contemporary in its content. It has evolved in so many ways. All that to say:


"You've come a long ways, baby..."