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Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced that Inner City Youth Empowerment, LLC will invest $10 million over two years in the City of Chicago’s summer employment violence prevention program, One Summer Chicago Plus (OSC+). Inner City Youth Empowerment, LLC is a private entity formed by Earvin Johnson and Mark and Kimbra Walter. The contributed funds will provide 5,000 employment opportunities for Chicago’s youth, tripling the size of the program and adding to the City’s existing $6 million commitment over the same period.
“One Summer Chicago Plus provides employment opportunities for our youth who need it most,” said Mayor Emanuel. “The City of Chicago, with the support of our community and business partners, remains committed to reducing violence in our city. Through this generous grant, more youth will stay safe, active and engaged this summer while getting the skills and on-the-job training necessary for a bright future.”
One Summer Chicago Plus, which was launched by Mayor Emanuel in 2012, connects youth who are at a higher risk for violence involvement with a 25-hour per week summer job, a mentor, cognitive behavioral therapy and social skill building. A comprehensive, peer-reviewed study published earlier this year showed that this unique program significantly reduced violence and juvenile delinquency for at least 16 months after the program ended. Last year, the City employed 1,000 youth through its OSC+ program. Beginning this summer, the program will expand to serve 2,000 youth in 2015 and 3,000 youth in 2016.
Earvin Johnson, who is widely recognized for his efforts in providing ethnically diverse urban communities with access to resources that educate and empower, said, “We are proud to partner on an initiative that has proven to change the trajectory of at risk kids’ lives. Providing disadvantaged kids with alternatives is a step in the right direction toward helping them reach their full potential and curb violence in our neighborhoods.”
“As a result of the research findings, we felt compelled to help bring this opportunity to a greater number of kids who can benefit,” said Mark Walter. “The impact on these young people and the community is both real and tangible. We are excited to partner with Mayor Emanuel and the City of Chicago on a program with such demonstrable, proven results.”
The additional funding will support community partners, ensuring they are able to manage the annual growth in jobs without compromising the quality of the program. OSC+ will combine, update and formalize the existing training program for 500 mentors over the two-year grant period. As a result of this investment, all adults working with Chicago’s youth will receive state-of-the-art training, including a 30-hour civic leadership curriculum, work readiness skills, non-cognitive skills, financial education, safety and conflict resolution, and trauma-informed practice.
Mayor Emanuel has made consistent, significant investments to provide summer jobs for youth and reduce violence in the city. In order to reach those most at risk of involvement in violence, OSC+ participants are drawn from high schools located in high crime areas. OSC+ focuses on youth enrolled in Chicago Public Schools between the ages of 16 and 19 years old that have missed 6-8 weeks of school or have been directly involved in the juvenile justice system.
In its first year, OSC+ engaged 700 young men and women from 13 high schools in high-crime areas. Under Mayor Emanuel, the program expanded to 1,000 youth in 2013, shifting its focus to males who had prior involvement with the justice system. In 2014, the program again served 1,000 youth blending at-risk high school students and highly motivated young men on juvenile probation for prior delinquent behavior.