Chasing23 started as a life changing decision for Founder and CEO Darius Ballinger. Growing up on the South Side of Chicago as a young black man, raised by a single mother can be a unique experience. Suspensions and expulsions, drugs and guns, arrests and funerals, and other decisions that shorten life spans.
On April 12, 2013, Founder Darius Ballinger, was facing a mandatory minimum of 5-7 years prison sentence for past convictions. He was offered a plea deal of 2 years probation and 90 days jail time. In that same evening, Darius spoke his last words to his mentor; he would find out the next day Wayne was fatally stabbed. Devastated and determined, Darius decided to make a change. One that would have a good impact, remembering the years of advice from of his mentor Wayne. The impact became Chasing23; Chasing Greatness.
Chasing23 is a vehicle that allows Darius to use his entrepreneurial drive and desire for a better community. The mission of Chasing23 Youth Empowerment Group is to build respect and unity among young people, introduce and help develop life-skills, as well as provide a network of support. At the end of the day it is about giving back to community and being a role model to Chicago’s youth.
Darius has completed 3 years of undergraduate studies focusing on urban studies and public policy. He is currently a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and is expected to graduate in 2018. His love for his community and dedication to positive social change has been proven through his work as mentor to hundreds of students on the South Side.
As a previous member of SGA, he not only talked about improvements to City Colleges, but took a leadership position to ensure student voices were heard. Darius has worked for several organization such as Urban Male Network, Guide Right, and Chicago Votes which is a non-partisan, non profit devoted to getting young people engaged in civics; training them to become future leaders of their communities. He has done motivational speaking through out the US; most recently at University of Florida’s 34th Annual Black Student Leadership Conference. He was also a key speaker at the CPS Black Male Youth Summit. Family comes first to Darius, he is the husband to Dashawnda, and father to Pierre, Naveed, and Hakeem.