Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Crain's: Business takes aim at city violence

Action on Cottage Grove last month from Crain's article
Here's the genesis of this:
On Jan. 4, moments before presiding over the graduation of 56 police recruits, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and an aide met in a small room at Navy Pier with three of corporate Chicago's biggest names: Allstate Corp. Chairman and CEO Tom Wilson, Loop Capital Markets LLC Chairman and CEO Jim Reynolds Jr. and mayoral adviser Michael Sacks, CEO of Grosvenor Capital Management LP.

The subject was the city's scandalous street violence. The horrifying murder of Hadiya Pendleton, the teen who performed at an inaugural event for President Barack Obama, would not happen for another three weeks, but a summer of escalating homicide numbers and high-profile incidents on Michigan Avenue had made the city's safety a national topic of concern.

Although it wouldn't be announced for another month, what emerged from that meeting was an unusual corporate effort to combat street violence. The mayor previously had worked with Messrs. Wilson and Reynolds on anti-violence initiatives and issues in the black community, and he asked them to lead a five-year, $50 million project—one of the largest public-private partnerships for at-risk youth in the nation—with the awkward title of “Get In Chicago.”

While no one argues with the goal of reducing violence, the name of the project isn't the only ungainly aspect of the effort. Basic questions remain: How will the organization be managed? Which social service groups will get funding and which will lose out? Is a new group really necessary? And what constitutes success?

The fundraising campaign has been a triumph, with the city announcing last week that the group already has commitments for $40.9 million, including $5 million each from Allstate, Exelon Corp. and Boeing Co. “I've never seen anything like this,” Mr. Reynolds says of the response from the business community. “We continue to get inquiries about it and people asking how they can get involved in ways beyond money.”
Well, the business community has to be as much a part of reducing the violence in this city as any other stakeholder. Safety has to be important especially when it comes to commerce. Ald. Sawyer was quoted in this piece as well:
Ald. Roderick Sawyer, whose 6th Ward encompasses some of the areas that will be targeted by the effort, praises the idea of big business funding to fight neighborhood ills. But he also questions how the participants were selected.

“To exclude me and others who were not approached is a disservice,” he says. “I can't tell people what to do with their money, but I think I could be a resource in a community where I've lived all my life. I think I know a little bit.”
Hmmmm, so there are questions about this initiative as you read in the excerpt. Apparently the usage and the consulting of this fund isn't at all very inclusive.

1 comment:

  1. I encourage Chicagoans to look at the maps in this and other articles on my blog and look for ways to engage business, health professionals, faith groups, etc. in building and sustaining a wide range of k-12 non-school tutoring, mentoring, youth development, college and career readiness and jobs programs in the nieghborhoods with highest poverty and highest concentrations of violence and poorly performing schools. A short term burst of funding going to a few places won't solve this problem.


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