There has been no greater priority than the safety and education of all of Chicago’s children, which is why I convened the Mayor’s Commission for a Safer Chicago, which is comprised of over 130 City staff, community and faith leaders, practitioners, subject matter experts, parents, and youth, to update the City’s plan to address the cycle of violence by addressing its root causes. Building on the success of the One Summer Chicago Program, the Commission made several recommendations focused on the training and development of youth, including: developing a pilot a common curriculum focused on workforce readiness and career planning during the summer, designing a “training bridge” to continue workforce skills training after the completion of summer jobs, cultivating richer employer partnerships to increase the availability of job opportunities for youth and prepare youth to be successful in those jobs, and surveying 1000 One Summer Chicago Plus participants to assess their skills, interests and educational needs, and use the survey results to connect them to existing year-round education and employment opportunities.
After working for an elected school board, I will work to bring vocational and trade studies back into CPS and also establish leadership training and development courses in high schools throughout the city. I also want to expand on the innovation technology and business incubator BLUE1647 located in Pilsen. This model trains young people from the community in high value-add sectors like information technology, advanced manufacturing, and other high-paying skills. It provides tools to help build entrepreneurs which can empower youth to build wealth in their community. Latino youth need access to better resources and support. I previously suggested using TIFs to fund a summer jobs program for city youth. This program would help teach valuable life skills and put money directly into the economy of neighborhoods that need it. After the unprecedented CPS closings, the overwhelming majority of which affected children of color, we should reevaluate its priorities. Public schools have to be accessible to all of Chicago’s children and must be a way to give opportunity to all. With the help and input of business leaders and employers, I will overhaul the vocational program at CPS to determine what will adequately prepare students for the future.
Job creation and economic development strategies for our neighborhoods are critical to improving safety. But there aren’t enough decent jobs with living wages and many Latino youth don’t have the education or training to secure other work. As Mayor I would prioritize the creation of programs that support families by building and protecting spaces where residents can thrive from a young age. I would invest in quality local schools, libraries, parks and community justice hubs that will work hand in hand with community residents to create opportunities for youth and decrease violence. Those who have committed acts of violence need to be held accountable, but in most cases they also deserve to learn from their errors, make restitution and forge productive and meaningful lives. My wife and I raised three children in Little Village; I know the anxiety of parents when gunshots ring out in our neighborhoods. As Mayor, I would establish a clear protocol for helping residents heal after traumatic events and be held accountable for their actions. Finally, mental illness plays a crucial role in the cycle of violence. We must implement new ways to fund and coordinate mental health services for high-risk and high-need Latino youth.
We will invest more into the development of families in all communities, including the Latino community. My administration will spend more on education, rehabilitation, and skill development and less on incarceration. Latino youth will have access to after school and summer jobs. We will offer incentive for youth to encourage their participation in community and civic events.
All current youth programs will be examined and the best performing programs will be revitalized and enhanced to provide the best services to the greatest number of children. We need to make sure that we operate the city within our budget. Unfortunately, for years we have operated with more than we have had to spend and that has resulted in a fiscal crisis. We need to make sure the services provided are being used appropriately and generating results.