By Courtney E. Smith
Many of Chicago’s kids are about to be put to work, thanks to the efforts of Common’s Common Ground Foundation and Kanye West’s Donda’s House (run by rapper Rhymefest and his wife), along with five other Chicago-based nonprofit groups. The coalition are aiming to create 1,000 year-round jobs for Chicago youths as an answer to a January jobs report for the city that showed 92 percent of young black males there are jobless.
The Chicago-Sun Times reports that the idea was hatched based on feedback from kids who participated in summer job programs. This group of non-profits plans to offer jobs starting at the end of September and increase the offerings next year, with the goal of impacting 15,000 youths by 2015.
“With the joining of these great organizations, we hope to continue the efforts of so many other organizations and the City of Chicago to create opportunities throughout the year for our youth and challenge our city to do even more on the ground. Our efforts will culminate in a musical celebration every year that will include resources offered to Chicago kids, directly related to placing them with an opportunity that can provide them hope and stability,” said Common at a press conference at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art announcing the project.
Part of the fundraising efforts behind this will be a music festival sponsored by Common and West’s foundations called The AAHH! FEST.
“Donda’s House Inc. is thrilled to partner with the Common Ground Foundation & Chicago Urban League along with several other community organizations across the city to host Open Mics, giving youth the opportunity to express themselves in a safe and nurturing event. Talented youth will be selected to showcase at the AAHH!! Festival in September” said Donnie Smith, Executive Director of Donda’s House, Inc.
Chicago made headlines as the so-called Murder Capital of America — in fairness, the city saw a year-over-year drop of nearly 100 total homicides from 2012 to 2013, but still surpassed Los Angles and New York City for its total.