The mother of eight children, “Ms. Diane” as the children refer to her, is a 32 year resident of the Roseland community on the far south side of Chicago. She founded the award winning and internationally recognized organization Kids Off The Block, Inc. (KOB) in her home in July of 2003. Ms. Latiker was given this vision through her mother Evangelist Ruth Jackson. Ms. Jackson, saw that the youth in the neighborhood liked and respected her daughter. Looking at the children that were always at her home, Ms. Diane saw health professionals, doctors, lawyers, professional musicians, professional sports figures, politicians, and actresses, and the list goes on. Ms. Diane believed that she could make a difference in the community, and in the many youth that she came in contact with daily. She became encouraged and opened up her home to get these young people off the streets and involved in programs that would benefit them for the rest of their lives. The organization celebrated 16 years of service to children/youth, teens and young adults in the city of Chicago, IL. KOB started out with ten neighborhood kids, and now has impacted thousands of lives through love, compassion, nurturing and respect.
Her organization has earned national and international recognition as a leading institution for the enrichment, empowerment, and personal development for youth in the Roseland community, one of Chicago’s roughest communities. KOB has a team of seven devoted volunteers on a mission to keep at-risk, low-income kids off the block by providing them with positive alternatives to gangs, drugs, truancy, violence, and the juvenile justice system.
Latiker founded KOB in her living room, and it has been a safe haven for thousands of at-risk teenagers for more than a decade. Her open-door policy has been the invitation that many of the kids needed to escape from homelessness, gang life, drugs, fighting, and other negative influences of the streets. This safe haven of support inspires kids to adopt more positive mindsets and behaviors that give them a better chance at a promising future and success in life. Through a preventive approach to program design, young people ages 10-24 have successfully identified and developed their innate gifts and technical skills, expanded their knowledge base about life’s opportunities, and engaged their personal and recreational interests, all as a result of one woman’s selfless sacrifice and determined spirit to show that she believed in them.