WBEZ | Chicago Urban League http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-urban-league Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The courtship of black votes: Is it working? http://www.wbez.org/news/courtship-black-votes-it-working-111007 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/quinn_rauner_debate.png" alt="" /><p><p><em>Governor Quinn, in my opinion, is taking the African-American vote for granted. I will deliver real results for African-American families. African-American families are suffering. - GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner</em></p><p><em>My opponent had 51 executives in his company. No African Americans. Not one. And I think that&rsquo;s the record. With the respect to our cabinet, it&rsquo;s diverse. - Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn</em></p><p>Those darts and others flew earlier this month when the two candidates debated at DuSable Museum of African American History on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side. Each argued that he&rsquo;s the better friend to blacks.</p><p>Chicago Urban League sponsored the debate, and CEO Andrea Zopp evaluated the attention to African-American voters.</p><p>&ldquo;It depends on whether you&rsquo;re trying to be cynical or not. So let&rsquo;s take the non-cynical approach first. I think it&rsquo;s terrific. In the last gubernatorial race in 2010, we held a forum here for the gubernatorial race and Bill Brady wouldn&rsquo;t even come to the South Side,&rdquo; Zopp said.</p><p>Zopp said that it&rsquo;s important that the GOP recognize black voting power. But, she added, &ldquo;The issue is of course the cynical side, is they&rsquo;re doing that right now. That once they get elected, we&rsquo;re irrelevant to them and that&rsquo;s certainly of concern.&rdquo;</p><p>Democratic strategist Delmarie Cobb said Quinn has black folk to thank for his 2010 victory. He got 90 percent of the black vote. Cobb said Quinn&rsquo;s opponent this year took notice.</p><p>&ldquo;The path to victory for the Republican candidate Bruce Rauner was determined before he entered the race and he decided the path to victory was through the African-American community,&rdquo; Cobb said.</p><p>Pastors and other high-profile African Americans have endorsed Rauner and dairy businessman Jim Oberweis, who&rsquo;s trying to unseat Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat. Oberweis has an office in Woodlawn and the GOP has recently opened offices on the South and West Sides.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know if it&rsquo;s made any significant changes in terms of what will it mean for African Americans when the election is over. My belief is if African Americans don&rsquo;t hold elected officials accountable, none of it means anything,&rdquo; Cobb said.</p><p>African-American voters can be Democratic party loyalists -- but consider &nbsp;the 1990s. Republican Governor Jim Edgar reaped black support. He was a moderate who had a record in black communities.</p><p>Community organizer Mark Allen said he&rsquo;s not sure what voter turnout will be this year. But for the first time, he&rsquo;s not endorsing any individuals for election.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re trying to finally focus on the economic issues because the black community once again is just as broke before these campaigns, just as broke during the campaigns and they&rsquo;re just as broke after the campaigns are over because we get so involved with the partisanship of these agendas, that we lose the economics,&rdquo; Allen said.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Get out the vote</span></p><p>On a sunny autumn day, organizers with the Black Youth Project are doing GOTV - get out the vote - at the 63rd and King Drive Green Line stop. They&rsquo;re out to get young people to take a pledge that they will vote on Nov. 4.</p><p>Charlene Carruthers is with the Black Youth Project and said one part of the black demographic is overlooked:</p><p>&ldquo;We know that in 2008, 2010 and also in 2012, young black voters were among the greatest when we look at the youth demographic. Our vote absolutely matters. It will absolutely impact the election statewide.&rdquo;</p><p>But Carruthers said candidates - regardless of political party -- aren&rsquo;t speaking to issues that young people care about -- things like &nbsp;reforming the criminal justice system.</p><p>In jockeying for the black vote, Carruthers said any candidate from any party needs to do more than show up around election time.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a>.&nbsp;Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 10:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/courtship-black-votes-it-working-111007 Hip-hop artist Common announces Chicago youth job program http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/hip-hop-artist-common-announces-chicago-youth-job-program-110003 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/common_140409_nm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Hip-hop artist Common and the Chicago Urban League are teaming up for a youth jobs initiative as a way to prevent violence and whittle down a high teen unemployment rate in the city.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I see what&rsquo;s going on in the city. We all see it. Anytime I hear about anybody getting shot, young people with guns, it hurts me,&rdquo; Common said Wednesday at the Museum of Contemporary Art. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not proud to be like, yeah, we&rsquo;re &lsquo;<a href="http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2014/01/chiraq_war_in_chicago_prevents_solutions.html">Chiraq</a>.&rsquo; At certain points I feel like I have to do more.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The Chicago Youth Jobs Collaborative will focus on securing year-found jobs for people ages 16-24. The target is 15,000 youth over the next five years. The program is set to launch this fall with 1,000 young people.</p><p dir="ltr">Private money will be raised to subsidize salaries for some of the jobs. A key piece of the collaborative is engaging the private sector to identify jobs, from corporate to manufacturing to nonprofit. Organizers don&rsquo;t want jobs to end when the summer ends. Employing 1,000 youth would cost approximately $2.4 million, according to the Chicago Urban League.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not just jobs, it&rsquo;s mentoring and support so they [young people] know that there&rsquo;s a group around them supporting their success so they know there&rsquo;s a future for them in this city,&rdquo; said Andrea Zopp, CEO of the Chicago Urban League.</p><p dir="ltr">Teen unemployment in Illinois is among the highest in the United States, and for low-income minorities the rates are even higher.</p><p dir="ltr">Researchers at Northeastern University released a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/stagnant-employment-picture-illinois-teens-105108">report </a>last year noting that teens&#39; lack work of experience adversely affects their future employability and wages. The conclusions mirror previous studies that suggest job experience can help deter teens from involvement in the criminal justice system.</p><p dir="ltr">The report&rsquo;s authors found only 8.7 percent of black teens in Chicago were employed in 2010-2011. The rate for Asians, though, was 15.5 percent. Twenty percent of the city&rsquo;s Hispanic teens were employed, and the rate for whites stood at 21 percent.</p><p dir="ltr">Meanwhile, across Illinois, the teen employment rate fell from just under 50 percent in 2000 to 28 percent in 2012 &mdash; the lowest rate in the 42 years for which such data exist. If Illinois teens had been able to maintain their 1999-2000 employment rates during the past year, there would have been another 151,000 teens at work in Illinois in 2011-2012, the report said.</p><p dir="ltr">Native son Common, whose mother Mahalia Hines is an educator and Chicago Public Schools board member, recalled meeting with young people in Englewood, a neighborhood with high crime and unemployment.</p><p dir="ltr">They told the rapper they needed money and jobs, underscoring the link between poverty and violence.</p><p>&ldquo;What do they want? They want opportunity and a chance,&rdquo; Common said.</p><p>This summer The AAHH! FEST, a two-day concert in September, will kick off. Common&rsquo;s foundation will partner with Kanye West&rsquo;s <a href="http://dondashouseinc.org/">Donda&rsquo;s House</a> in which emcee Rhymefest is the creative director. Part of the money will fund the year-round jobs initiatives.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is a WBEZ reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a></em></p><p><em>Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 17:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/hip-hop-artist-common-announces-chicago-youth-job-program-110003 Take Root Chicago launches to stabilize housing http://www.wbez.org/news/take-root-chicago-launches-stabilize-housing-107843 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/housing.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">A new program to help struggling and potential homeowners is launching in Chicago.</p><p><a href="http://www.takerootchicago.org/">Take Root Chicago</a> will bring lenders, housing nonprofits and advocacy groups under one umbrella. The online portal, which offers a plethora of programs, is targeted at both potential home buyers and those trying to stave off foreclosure.</p><p>Take Root Chicago is sponsored by the Chicago Urban League and Freddie Mac. The program&rsquo;s services range from how to buy cheap vacant homes to financial counseling to finding lending options for first-time buyers.</p><p>&ldquo;You don&rsquo;t have to go to each person to understand what that specific organization is providing. You just go one place and everybody working together to make it happen,&rdquo; said Christina Diaz-Malone, vice president of housing and community outreach for Freddie Mac.</p><p>Take Root Chicago is free to the public and starts August 1. Similar programs are already up and running in Milwaukee, South Florida, Jacksonville and Denver.</p><p>Diaz-Malone said the city is in the top ten of of Freddie Mac&rsquo;s high delinquency markets.</p><p>&ldquo;The goals of the partnership are twofold: increase homeownership and retain or maintain current homeownership,&rdquo; Diaz-Malone said.</p><p>Chicago has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation. Twenty-five percent of blacks in the city have lost their homes during the current crisis, according to the Chicago Urban League. The damage is still visible in pockets of the South and West Sides where some blocks have more boarded-up homes than those that are occupied.</p><p>&ldquo;The devastation that is taking place particularly in African-American and Latino communities in Chicago is tremendous,&rdquo; said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who has <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-06-29/business/ct-biz-0630-countrywide-20100629_1_latino-borrowers-subprime-loans-countrywide-financial-corp">sued</a> subprime <a href="http://www.chicagoreporter.com/news/2007/12/illinois-attorney-general-subpoenas-countrywide">lenders</a>. &ldquo;It wiped out a generation of wealth building and it is going to take us at least a generation to rebuild. That&rsquo;s why it&rsquo;s important that we&rsquo;re here on the backend of this crisis to put in place the resources.&rdquo;</p><p>Sharon Legenza, executive director of Housing Action Illinois, said a one-stop program like Take Root Chicago will be beneficial.</p><p>&ldquo;As most people know we have been very focused on foreclosure prevention programs. This is starting to turn that corner, to bring under one roof both information for foreclosure prevention and the homeownership side,&rdquo; Legenza said. &ldquo;This is unique because it starts to link housing &ndash; rental or homeownership &ndash; as a continuum in peoples&rsquo; lives.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Natalie Moore is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/natalieymoore">@natalieymoore</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 25 Jun 2013 16:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/take-root-chicago-launches-stabilize-housing-107843 Minorities, women get $82.5 million in CTA Red Line contracts http://www.wbez.org/news/minorities-women-get-825-million-cta-red-line-contracts-107754 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/red line_130618_nm.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Transit Authority says the massive Red Line reconstruction on the South Side isn&rsquo;t just improving ridership for African Americans who live there &ndash; it&rsquo;s also giving them jobs.</p><p>Amid pressure to be inclusive with millions of contracting dollars at stake, CTA has awarded 32 percent of Red Line contracts to businesses owned by minorities and women &ndash; totaling $82.5 million.</p><p>African-American groups have long complained about being shut out of city contracts. They were particularly sensitive to the Red Line renovations because the stations under construction are in predominantly black neighborhoods.</p><p>The five-month CTA project is between Cermak-Chinatown and 95th/Dan Ryan. The contract portion of the renovations is $259.4 million with two prime, or main, companies. Kiewit Infrastructure Company, an international firm, is completing the track work to the tune of $215.6 million and F.H. Paschen, S.N. Nielsen and Associates is in charge of station work for $43.8 million.</p><p>According to the CTA, Kiewit&rsquo;s minority/women contract amount is $65 million and Paschen&rsquo;s is $17.5 million. CTA officials told WBEZ they don&rsquo;t have final numbers regarding the racial breakdown of on-site workers, but they set a mandatory goal for prime contractors: 15 percent of all man-hours must go to the economically disadvantaged.</p><p>The federal program in which these subcontractors qualify is called the <a href="https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/ofinterest/bus/mwdbe.html" target="_blank">Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)</a>. It must be 51 percent owned and controlled by a socially and economically disadvantaged individual. The CTA is actually governed by the federal designation, not the city of Chicago. However, there is overlap with DBE companies and city-certified minority/women businesses. Chicago&rsquo;s contract program for minority and women businesses has, in the past, been marred by fraud, abuse and mismanagement. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We believe that things have gone very well thus far. The companies that signed on as subcontractors, in particular the DBEs, are working well with the prime (contractors). We&rsquo;re encouraged as we move into the completion of the first full month of construction that things will continue to go well until the Red Line reopens in October,&rdquo; said Stephen Mayberry, a CTA spokesman.</p><p>One of the African-American subcontractors that works for another subcontractor is LiveWire Electrical Systems. The Oak Forest, Ill.-based company is receiving $1 million to retrofit lighting at Red Line stations.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s difficult to get the prime contracts because bonding requirements are very high,&rdquo; said LiveWire&rsquo;s president Shon Harris. &ldquo;It makes it difficult for smaller subcontractors. Right now you just have to cut your deal with the prime and demand that you get a proper share of the work and make sure you perform,&rdquo; Harris said.</p><p>In the past, Harris said one of the biggest difficulties was getting the buy-in of prime contractors. The skepticism can often be <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/race-out-loud/race-and-construction-who-gets-jobs-101415" target="_blank">cloaked in race</a>, Harris said, pointing to trade unions that are dominated by whites.</p><p>&ldquo;To be quite honest, a lot of times they feel you don&rsquo;t have the wherewithal to do the work,&rdquo; Harris said. But Harris said this time around the CTA has stuck to its commitment of making sure African Americans are represented.</p><p>Months before the Red Line tracks were ripped up, the Chicago Urban League organized meet-and-greets for minority contractors to sit down with major construction firms. The League also compiled a database of 2,000 skilled black construction workers. City contracts and construction jobs can be a boon, especially in areas starved for employment opportunities. Last year a <a href="http://www.epi.org/publication/ib337-black-metropolitan-unemployment/" target="_blank">report</a>&nbsp;found that African-American unemployment in Chicago was 19 percent, the third highest in the country.</p><p>&ldquo;We created real, meaningful opportunities for a range of African American businesses. We created opportunities and access for jobs for skilled workers to get onto the project. It&rsquo;s not just token representation,&rdquo; said Andrea Zopp, CEO of the Chicago Urban League.</p><p>Critics of city contracts have long said the process is a playground for the politically connected. Zopp said many small subcontractors don&rsquo;t have access like the bigger players in town. The League also offers a 10-week contractor development program. Six of the businesses that graduated are currently CTA subcontractors &ndash; including LiveWire.</p><p>&ldquo;We wanted to be involved because so far on many major building projects or construction projects run by the government, African Americans aren&rsquo;t represented,&rdquo; Zopp said.</p><p>One example that many often cite is the recent Metra Englewood Flyover rail project. Last year U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush loudly protested the <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/12299737-418/metra-to-delay-englewood-flyover-project.html" target="_blank">paltry number of minority contractors involved</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;We are sick and tired of construction contracts in our communities that bring us all the dust, all the dirt, all the delay but none of the dough,&rdquo; Rush told the <em>Chicago Sun-Times</em>.</p><p>The affirmative action program for city contracts started under Mayor Harold Washington&rsquo;s administration in 1985. In 2010, the city inspector released a report critical of the program. The inspector&rsquo;s investigation uncovered the use of front companies &ndash; businesses pretending to be minority firms to secure city contracts.</p><p>Bob Israel, president of Save Our Community Coalition, is on alert for front companies cashing in on the Red Line renovation.</p><p>&ldquo;It ain&rsquo;t the CTA &ndash; it&rsquo;s the contractors I have my eyes on. Just because they&rsquo;re certified doesn&rsquo;t mean they&rsquo;re legit,&rdquo; Israel said.</p><p>His coalition is an advocate for African-American contractors and tradesmen and so far, he said, one Red Line subcontractor has caught his eye &ndash; Sandi Llano, a white female, received $250,000 to be a community liaison and outreach consultant.</p><p>&ldquo;A Caucasian female?&rdquo; Israel asked incredulously, referring to the fact that mostly black riders are affected by the shutdown along the southern portion of the Red Line. The CTA said it cannot dictate which firms the prime contractors hire.</p><p>Last fall, Israel <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/labor/black-chicagoans-rally-demand-construction-jobs-102776" target="_blank">marched with Ed Gardner</a> and 1,000 others at 92nd and Western in the suburb of Evergreen Park to protest a lack of black construction jobs where a shopping center was being built. Gardner, a millionaire and founder of the iconic Soft Sheen hair care company, said he has met with CTA officials and wants proof of black workers.</p><p>&ldquo;At least let us see what they&rsquo;re doing and when they&rsquo;re doing it,&rdquo; Gardner said. &ldquo;We should have a chance to see a result of their works. I don&rsquo;t know when they [blacks] are supposed to earn these dollars.&rdquo;</p><p>Zopp said the Chicago Urban League efforts show that minority hiring and contracting is feasible &ndash; even when it&rsquo;s not a government project like the Red Line. And though they&rsquo;re not always tied to city rules, she wants private developers to take note.</p><p>&ldquo;If the private developers are truly committed to diversity, this shows that it&rsquo;s doable. Many of those private developers have public support and tax incentives,&rdquo; Zopp said. &ldquo;What we&rsquo;ve proven here is there&rsquo;s no excuse. If private developers won&rsquo;t support the community, we shouldn&rsquo;t support their businesses.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Natalie Moore is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/natalieymoore" target="_blank">@natalieymoore</a>.</em></p><h2><strong>Kiewit Construction Dan Ryan South Team</strong></h2><p>&nbsp;</p><script type="text/javascript" src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/static/modules/gviz/1.0/chart.js"> {"dataSourceUrl":"//docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/tq?key=0Am5Rt8H_U2b1dEc1Y28wclhzOWJIZTM2UnV2alFDWlE&transpose=0&headers=0&range=A2%3AE30&gid=0&pub=1","options":{"titleTextStyle":{"fontSize":16},"vAxes":[{"useFormatFromData":true,"title":"Left vertical axis title","minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null}],"booleanRole":"certainty","title":"Chart title","animation":{"duration":500},"annotations":{"domain":{"style":"line"}},"hAxis":{"useFormatFromData":true,"title":"Horizontal axis title","minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},"width":600,"height":512},"state":{},"view":{"columns":[0,{"label":"","properties":{"role":"annotation"},"sourceColumn":1},{"label":"","properties":{"role":"annotationText"},"sourceColumn":2},{"label":"","properties":{"role":"annotationText"},"sourceColumn":3},{"label":"","properties":{"role":"annotationText"},"sourceColumn":4}]},"isDefaultVisualization":true,"chartType":"Table","chartName":"Chart 1"} </script><p>&nbsp;</p><h2><strong>F.H. Paschen Construction Dan Ryan South Construction Team</strong></h2><p>&nbsp;</p><script type="text/javascript" src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/static/modules/gviz/1.0/chart.js"> {"dataSourceUrl":"//docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/tq?key=0Am5Rt8H_U2b1dEc1Y28wclhzOWJIZTM2UnV2alFDWlE&transpose=0&headers=0&range=A34%3AE48&gid=0&pub=1","options":{"titleTextStyle":{"fontSize":16},"vAxes":[{"useFormatFromData":true,"title":"Left vertical axis title","minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null}],"booleanRole":"certainty","title":"Chart title","annotations":{"domain":{"style":"line"}},"hAxis":{"useFormatFromData":true,"title":"Horizontal axis title","minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},"width":600,"height":320},"state":{},"view":{"columns":[0,{"label":"","properties":{"role":"annotation"},"sourceColumn":1},{"label":"","properties":{"role":"annotationText"},"sourceColumn":2},{"label":"","properties":{"role":"annotationText"},"sourceColumn":3},{"label":"","properties":{"role":"annotationText"},"sourceColumn":4}]},"isDefaultVisualization":true,"chartType":"Table","chartName":"Chart 2"} </script><p><em>Source: Chicago Transit Authority</em></p><p>Key:&nbsp;</p><ul><li>AA - African American</li><li>H - Hispanic</li><li>AI - American Indian</li><li>C - Caucasian</li><li>AP - Asian/Pacific Islander</li></ul></p> Tue, 18 Jun 2013 14:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/minorities-women-get-825-million-cta-red-line-contracts-107754