Mayor Rahm Emanuel Puts $4.5 Million in Anti-Violence Programs for Youth
"There are about 7,000 young men at risk of committing crimes, according to the University of Chicago Crime Lab, and when the school bell goes off, it does not mean our commitment to kids should end," Emanuel said at a Thursday news conference at William R. Harper High School on the South Side.
The city will put an additional $4.5 million into summer jobs, mentoring and recreational programs, which would benefit another 2,000 youth attending 17 public high schools. The city currently serves 3,500 at-risk youth in programs.
One of those programs is Becoming A Man (B.A.M.), which among youth involved has reduced violent crime arrests by 40 percent, increased high school graduation rates by 10 percent and even reduced failing grades by youth by 37 percent, according to an evaluation by the University of Chicago Crime Lab. B.A.M., which is run by Youth Guidance, will see its funding from the city increase to $3 million from $1 million at a critical time when more resources are needed.
“With this significant investment, Youth Guidance's B.A.M. program will help thousands of young men find evidence of their worth, strengthen their connection to and success in school and help build safer communities,” said Michelle Morrison, director of Youth Guidance. “We are honored to be a part of this important effort to reduce youth violence, increase school achievement and help Chicago's young men reach their full potential.”
Harper High School student R.J. Howard credits B.A.M with saving his life.
"The B.A.M program has helped me become a man and is helping me complete my goal of graduating from high school and going to college," Howard said.
Harper Principal Leonetta Sanders agreed.
"We need more jobs and internships if we are going to keep our youth away from crime," she added.
As a parent, Emanuel said he takes what he does to help youth seriously.
"I have three kids who are fortunate because they have two parents at home. Not all kids have that support role at home, which is why it is important they we step up," Emanuel said. "Everyone of these young men in the [B.A.M] program faces challenges, and without proper guidance they will end up on the wrong side of the law."