Chicago Tribune: Emanuel: Anti-violence funds should be distributed faster by Get IN Chicago

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday said he wants money collected by a faltering Chicago anti-violence initiative to get passed along to the organizations it was meant to help, but he did not say what he will do to make that happen.

The mayor’s comments came after the Chicago Tribune published an investigation that found just $3.7 million in grants was distributed by the Get IN Chicago organization to youth anti-violence programs as of June 1, though the private foundation has collected $17.6 million from business leaders since 2013 plus $17 million more in written pledges.
“It’s other people’s money (Get IN has raised), they want to see activities just like what we’re doing here,” Emanuel said after groundbreaking for a tennis center in the Washington Park neighborhood.

The mayor did not respond, however, when asked what he would do to compel Get IN to distribute its funds.

For Emanuel, who touted Get IN Chicago at its June 2013 launch as an effort to put “unprecedented resources” into building “a bridge of opportunity into a better future with better values” for Chicago’s youth, the relatively small investment that has been disbursed represents another example of a program he has heralded as a milestone falling short of expectations so far.

The Tribune has reported that the mayor’s Chicago Infrastructure Trust, designed to leverage private investment in public works projects, has done little in the three years since he brought in former President Bill Clinton to announce it. And the Tribune reported in August 2013 that Emanuel’s effort to fight the city’s food deserts also had fallen short of its goals.

Gun violence awareness: Hadiya Pendleton ‘would’ve been 18,’ her mom notes
Gun violence awareness: Hadiya Pendleton ‘would’ve been 18,’ her mom notes
Unlike those other programs, Get IN Chicago is run privately, so it’s easier for the mayor to criticize the organization’s performance without appearing to have dropped the ball himself. On Monday, Emanuel said he told the group’s leadership a year ago to “get moving” on awarding the donated funds. Asked for details or evidence that such a conversation took place, the mayor’s office did not respond.

In the Tribune story published in Sunday’s editions, the business leaders who co-chair the Get IN foundation — Allstate CEO Thomas Wilson and Loop Capital CEO James Reynolds Jr. — expressed confidence in the foundation’s path and its leadership.

“It’s really about getting the existing system to work in a new and different way because what we know we have doesn’t work,” Wilson told the Tribune in Sunday’s story. “We are trying to help bring a new set of skills and capabilities to this issue. Any time you try to do something that’s new, it’s hard.”

Reynolds also has told the Tribune that the organization wants to spend its money wisely and the dollars disbursed on youth programs will accelerate in the next three years. Not a penny will be left in the bank after five years, he said. “When this money’s gone, hopefully we’ll go out for more, and do it again, and grow it,” Reynolds said.

Also Monday, Emanuel continued to try to pressure Springfield to give the beleaguered Chicago Public Schools financial help with a $634 million teacher pension payment due at the end of the month. Emanuel did not directly answer when asked whether the school district can make the payment, though he did say to do so would mean cuts in the classrooms.

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Englewood Police Youth Baseball Leauge

Chicago Sun Times: Youth baseball league combats violence with Officer Friendly coaches

When Kenyatta Jones heard the premise behind the Englewood Police Youth Baseball League, she quickly signed up her 9-year-old son, DaQuan Williams.

“I think this is such a good thing for young black boys, and they’ve even got the girls playing,” Jones said Wednesday as she rooted for her son’s Tigers at Hamilton Park in Englewood.

“With as much violence going on in the city, it’s a real good thing to have police actually involved with the community,” Jones said.

Wednesday was opening day for the unique baseball league that launched in May in the South Side Englewood neighborhood — where the game is about more than baseball.

In this league, about 100 boys and girls, ages 9 to 12, are looking to stay safe this summer from the violence that plagues their community.

Looking to help them are dozens of current and retired Chicago Police officers — their team coaches.

“If the youth don’t trust the organization that is in charge of our safety and security on the streets, they’ll fall to the gangs and street violence,” said Marco Johnson, president of the Chicago Police Athletic League, one of the groups involved.

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Chicago Tribune: Family Mourns Slain 9-Year-Old Boy

Aug. 30th, 2014

Three weeks ago, Antonio Maurice Smith, Jr., was just another kid enjoying summer with his family at the annual Bud Billiken Parade.

Described as energetic and smart, the 9-year-old Antonio loved to smile, entertain and dance to Michael Jackson songs.

Funeral for Antonio Smith
Nine-year-old shooting victim Antonio Smith is laid to rest. (Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune)
But on Saturday, Antonio lay still in a small white casket, surrounded by bouquets of white, yellow and orange flowers, at a church where he was baptized and sang in choir. His framed Washington Park Pee Wee football No. 84 jersey stood to the left.

“We should not be here,” said the Rev. John Hannah during the funeral at the the Evening Star Missionary Baptist Church, 2050 W. 59th St. in West Englewood. “How many more people have to be sacrificed before we stand up and say enough is enough?”


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