We already know Chicago has been is still going through some things when it comes to youth violence and unemployment in the city. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that there’s a connection between the two. In January, a report detailed the depressing landscape for young, black males in the work force with 92 percent joblessness.
To remedy the problem the Urban League partnered with rapper and Chicago native Common and songwriter Che “Rhymefest” Smith to create 1,000 year-round jobs for teens.
Spawned by the feedback from teens at the end of the summer job programs, the partnership will include a music festival fundraiser this summer.
Andrea Zopp, president and CEO of the Urban League said, “Every year, we hold a hearing where young people in the summer jobs programs come and talk about the impact the jobs had on their lives.”
But this year the teens brought up an entirely different issue.
They told Zopp, “Their need for a job doesn’t end in September. They have needs to support their families, take care of themselves. They want to work year-round. So in our community, we have to focus on that topic.”
Rev. Michael Pfleger, who attended the announcement says jobs are the solution to decreased crime in the city. “Ninety-five percent of the brothers I deal with every day on the streets wants the same thing every kid on the North Side and on the North Shore wants. Until we offer them options, the violence is our fault, because we’ve failed them.”
The program will launch 1,000 jobs initially with a goal to have 15,000 jobs within the next five years.
The music festival will raise funds for youth programs supported by Common’s Common Ground Foundation, and rapper Kanye West’s charity Donda’s House run by Rhymefest and his wife.
Here’s what Common had to say about it.
“Any time I hear of innocent people getting shot and killed and young people with guns, it hurts. I felt I have to do more than just write songs about Chicago. Obviously, one of the biggest reasons our kids are going through what they’re going through is because of poverty. I was doing an event in the neighborhood and there were some kids from Englewood and I said, ‘Man, what do y’all really need? What’s gonna stop this? And they were like, ‘We need money. Man, if we could work.’ They want a chance.”
True. Kudos to Common, Kanye and Rhymefest.
The inaugural fundraiser will be held September 20-21.