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  • Multimedia Digital Media Strategy nextTV Contact Policy Research Overview Strategies Office of Education Policy Current Studies Juvenile Justice Policy Initiatives Media Partners Community DONATE DONATE Donor Recognition Program Chicago Urban League Overview Return to Headlines 5 28 The Chicago Urban League Remembers Dr Maya Angelou The Chicago Urban League Remembers Dr Maya Angelou CHICAGO IL May 28 2014 Dr Maya Angelou rose above a life of poverty and abuse to become one of the world s most beloved and respected writers and speakers She challenged us to look beyond the characteristics we use to discriminate against each other and encouraged us to find humanity in everyone In a career that spanned several decades Dr Angelou s autobiographies volumes of poetry and roles on stage and screen enlightened the world As an activist for women and the disenfranchised Dr Angelou inspired us to challenge the status quo and demand equality and access to educational and economic opportunities She was honored by US Presidents and treated as a dignitary throughout the world The Chicago Urban League joins the world in mourning her loss Although she is no longer with us Dr Maya Angelou s rich legacy of books poetry performances and powerful

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  • Supports Women Entrepreneurs Walmart Supports Women Entrepreneurs O n May 7 2014 Walmart presented a check in the amount of 60 000 to The Chicago Urban League s Entrepreneurship Center The grant which was a part of the Walmart Foundation s State Giving Program will be used to provide strategic consulting classroom training expert evaluation and business coaching to approximately 1 000 women as they look to start up or expand their small business Since 2007 the Entrepreneurship Center has helped thousands of local businesses start expand and create jobs said Andrea L Zopp President and CEO of the Chicago Urban League This partnership with the Walmart Foundation allows us to reach aspiring and emerging women entrepreneurs and have an even greater impact on local businesses and workforce development Prior to presenting the check to Zopp John Bisio Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations at Walmart met with five female entrepreneurs who have benefited from the Entrepreneurship Center programs The women Zakeia Hampton Rose Lee Diane McDonald Elizabeth McQueen and Kim Scott each gave testimonials about how the Entrepreneurship Center provided training across the key topics of financial and resource management business strategy marketing social media and computer technology

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  • lot but I want to draw your attention to the date 1962 One year after this dinner was founded This dinner was started 50 years ago in l961 Before the Civil Rights Act before the Voting Rights Act before the March on Washington Lunch counters hotels and bathrooms were still segregated School districts across the country were refusing to follow the mandate of Brown v Board of Education and black people were still being lynched in the South for looking at a white person the wrong way But despite this hostile environment where so many walls still stood between blacks and whites here in Chicago a courageous dedicated and diverse group of individuals led by then Chicago Urban League Executive Director Bill Berry and then board member Hank Schwab who is here with us this evening said We will not let hatred and division stop us They said the work of the Chicago Urban League in helping African Americans find jobs find housing and stay in school was crucial work They understood that a strong black community in Chicago meant a stronger better Chicago Their strength their courage their commitment to overcome racism and to work together to make the city better for all of its residents that is the history we honor here tonight But there is another reason why it is so important to appreciate and value our history Because as George Santayana said Those who can t remember the past are destined to repeat it And here s the thing when the past comes around for the second ride it does not look exactly the same It looks a little different in small subtle ways And if we don t understand or know where we come from we will be moving backwards before we know it We know African Americans have made significant progress since 1961 We have overcome so much on our way to becoming a better society We have elected Barack Obama as our President Yet despite all this progress African Americans still lag on almost every critical social economic and educational statistic Academic performance graduation rates unemployment rates foreclosures rates health impacts We know there is still work to be done And there are signs in some areas that our forward progress is stalled and maybe even moving backward You may have heard about a new crime increasing in the past year It is the crime of educational theft This crime has occurred in places where children were consigned to substandard and underperforming schools Schools that when the children walked in the door even if they did everything they were supposed to do even if they attended every day even if they did all of their homework even if they passed all their tests and moved forward and passed each grade Even if they did all those things when they graduated they still would not meet the state standards or be prepared for high school or college The parents of some of these children

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  • of Chicago s civic business community and elected leaders Two of the greatest issues that impact Chicago s African American community are access to a quality education that prepares one for a career and access to job opportunities and career options said Joseph A Gregoire chairman of the Chicago Urban League board of directors In partnership with a broad community of supporters and allies the Chicago Urban League works hard to ensure that the individuals and families we serve are prepared to seize and successfully execute every opportunity available to them Andrea L Zopp president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League shared that persistent double digit unemployment rates in the African American community combined with countless STEM and STEM related jobs in Cook County going unfilled by African Americans will have troubling consequences for the region The skills and opportunity gap is so significant that if it continues it will have a devastating impact on the African American workforce and the economic stability of metropolitan Chicago said Zopp We must find ways to work together across boundaries to build programs that help individuals overcome barriers to gainful employment In the keynote address Ilene S Gordon Ingredion Incorporated chairman president and CEO related her experiences forging a career in the manufacturing industry In business a STEM education is a promising road to success Gordon said But it s also essential to continually learn new skills embrace change be proactive and takes risks she added In addition to discussing solutions to the crisis of the African American skills gap the Chicago Urban League also highlighted six local innovators who are blazing new trails in their chosen career paths Receiving special recognition for their outstanding achievements were Joy Bivins curator at the Chicago History Museum who is behind diverse exhibits including Without

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  • up with the state s lack of will to fix its public school funding formula filed a lawsuit to have the scheme declared unconstitutional and in violation of the Illinois Civil Rights Act of 2003 Our lawsuit remains viable and when we have our day in court I m confident that we will win based on clear evidence that the state s funding model violates the law and is doing severe damage to our students A victory would mean the state starting with the General Assembly would have to create a new and more equitable education funding plan A plan that distributes funds in a way that ensures that children in low income property tax poor districts receive the support they need to succeed While we are confident in the strength of our lawsuit the Urban League has always maintained that at any time the General Assembly can do right by the children of Illinois and change the discriminatory school funding system It appears that a real possibility of change is on the horizon in Springfield Senate Bill 16 the School Funding Reform Act of 2014 is a proposed new law that would address the inadequate funding of school districts with the highest concentration of children from low income communities This bill would create a single funding allocation system that would distribute resources in a simple equitable way The progressive funding formula would prioritize resources and direct them to communities where there is greater student need The result would be increased funding to high poverty school districts and extra support to children with disabilities and students who are English language learners This bill which is sponsored by Senator Andy Manar of Staunton IL and has been endorsed by members of the Senate Black Caucus including Kimberly A Lightford Mattie Hunter

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  • take place on Wednesday April 30 2014 from 11 30 a m until 1 30 p m at the Hyatt Regency Chicago Ilene S Gordon Chairman President and CEO of Ingredion Incorporated will deliver the luncheon s keynote address and discuss how rallying together through public private and not for profit sector partnerships can challenge the status quo and ensure that the gaps in skills access and achievement are closed and eventually eliminated In addition the Chicago Urban League will also applaud the work of local innovators who are blazing successful pathways for themselves and for those that will follow them Preparing people with the skills needed to be connected to existing and emerging opportunities can be an overwhelming task and though there has been improvement in certain sectors there are still major skill gaps in the African American community said Andrea L Zopp president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League There remains an urgent need to increase the number of African Americans who are not only prepared for STEM careers but who also have access to ample opportunities in science technology engineering and math Addressing these ongoing challenges requires a universal recognition that bold fearless leadership and collaboration is needed across sectors Receiving special recognition as innovators for their dynamic work in the areas of education and healthcare will be Joy Bivins curator at the Chicago History Museum who is behind diverse exhibits including Without Sanctuary Lynching Photography in America and Inspiring Beauty 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair Bivins ensures African Americans contribution to the city s history is preserved and recognized Elizabeth Dozier principal of Fenger Academy High School who helped develop an instructional strategy and framework to change failing schools Fenger once one of Chicago s worst performing schools has seen a decrease in dropouts

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  • private and public sectors Launching in the fall of 2014 in the first year The Chicago Youth Jobs Collaborative seeks to provide year round jobs to a minimum of 1 000 youth with the intent to increase this number by one thousand per year over the next four years for a target of 15 000 youth impacted over the next five years Today we issue a call to action to the public private and non profit sectors to join this effort to make year round investments in our youth Summer jobs provide tremendous opportunities but we often hear strong pleas from young people for year round jobs said Andrea L Zopp President and CEO of the Chicago Urban League In addition to providing financial resources and a strong work ethic jobs keep youth out of harm s way Year round job opportunities and support services will significantly improve the well being of our youth and strengthen our city We owe it to our young people to make this investment in them The Common Ground Foundation and Donda s House Inc also announced the launch of an Annual Music Festival The AAHH FEST with proceeds from the Festival supporting the Common Ground Foundation Donda s House Inc Arts Education in Chicago Public Schools and Year Round Youth Jobs initiatives Specific event plans leading up to the festival can be found at www dondashouseinc org or www thinkcommon com 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 The AAHH FEST will be held September 20 21 2014 at 6300 S Hayes Drive Day One will feature a diverse all star line up of talent from across the country and Chicago Day Two will be curated by Kanye West foundation Donda s House and showcase Chicago s aspiring talent The AAHH FEST will also host a job shadowing program which allows youth to learn operations connected to producing a high level outdoor special event 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 says Common Officials in attendance included Ken Bennett Deputy Chief of Staff Mayor s Office 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston Michelle Boone Commissioner DCASE Alonzo Williams Deputy Director of Park Services Chicago Park District and Father Mike Pfleger Faith Community of St Sabina For information about

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  • economy We must turn this trend around At the Chicago Urban League we believe that preparing people for existing and future jobs requires that community stakeholders in the public private and not profit sector tap into solutions that give African Americans the skills needed for jobs in STEM and STEM related fields But we must take it a step further Once we prepare individuals for the jobs we must work relentlessly to connect them to job opportunities We must be fearless in this effort to uplift and empower the African American workforce On Wednesday April 30 the Chicago Urban League will convene leaders at our annual summit and luncheon Utilizing the theme Fearless Collaboration Where Preparation Meets Opportunity we will discuss solutions to the crisis of the African American skills gap acknowledge the collaborative efforts that are making an impact and encourage support for more innovative efforts that will lead to more African Americans landing good paying jobs with a lifetime of growth potential We have our work cut out for us but there is a pathway to success First we must close the education gap that inhibits skills training In the final quarter of 2013 in Cook County more the 77 percent of the150 000 job openings at the top 20 employers were in skills driven sectors according to a report by the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership They included jobs in IT healthcare transportation manufacturing and sales industries in which African Americans historically have been underrepresented but if trained could surely thrive In Chicago we know what success looks like We have seen powerful collaborations such as the Skills for Chicagoland s Future program which partners with employers to implement train to hire and direct hire initiatives Since its launch in 2012 more than 600 have been hired And

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