Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called on Chicagoans Wednesday to get more hands-on when it comes to solving the city’s violence problem, encouraging civic leaders to mentor and hire young people and “give them a chance to go in a different direction, a chance they haven’t had.”
These days, the former head of Chicago Public Schools is running a new anti-violence project funded called Chicago CRED, funded by Steve Jobs’ widow.
He’s given 66 young black men jobs beautifying the Roseland and Pullman neighborhoods on the South Side, and prepping abandoned homes for remodeling.
Speaking to civic leaders Wednesday, Duncan posed the question—What if we gave jobs to the 2,000 or so Chicago young men that police say are most at risk of shooting or being shot?
“These numbers aren’t overwhelming,” said Duncan. “There aren’t 20,000 people running around shooting each other in Chicago—it’s not like that. These numbers are manageable.”
He said he visits Cook County Jail monthly and asks young men, “‘What would we have to pay you to get you to walk away from the streets and put down the guns and stop shooting?’ And consistently, consistently it’s $12, $13 an hour. It’s peanuts,” said Duncan.