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More than 24,000 Youth Worked This Summer to Learn Skills While Improving Communities

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today joined youth participating in the One Summer Chicago program on a community revitalization project in West Englewood.  The youth are from a specialized portion of the program known as One Summer Chicago’s Plus program, which hired 2,000 students from high schools in the highest crime areas of the city and provided them with summer jobs and additional support services such as a mentor, cognitive behavioral therapy and social skills building.

Since taking office, Mayor Emanuel has more than doubled summer jobs for youth across the city under One Summer Chicago, which also serves as a key violence prevention effort. This year, One Summer Chicago programming provided 24,000 youth jobs this summer—the most in the program’s history.

“One Summer Chicago Plus provides young adults with better opportunities today so they can have a brighter future,” said Mayor Emanuel. “As part of our commitment to reducing violence in our City, this summer we are providing more opportunities than ever before to gain skills while they give back to their communities. Not only will this help Chicago youth earn a paycheck this summer, but it will help provide them with the tools they need to secure a bright and successful future.”

Today’s project in West Englewood paired youth with renowned visual artist Amanda Williams, originally from the Auburn Gresham community, who has returned home for a summer art installation that identifies abandoned structures, and using color and creativity, beautifies the urban landscape. Williams’ project, which has spanned the summer months, is called the Color(ed) Theory, and transforms “eye sores” into community art until the buildings can be demolished.

The urban beautification project was part of 2015 One Summer Chicago work duties in partnership with the Mayor’s Infrastructure Team. This year, 100 teams have painted over 338 viaducts and also mulched and cleaned many of Chicago’s main boulevards.

Mayor Emanuel was joined today by DFSS Commissioner Lisa Morrison Butler, Department of Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Charles Williams, 15th ward Alderman Raymond Lopez, Williams and a group of One Summer Chicago PLUS participants, as they made an abandoned house their canvas by painting it a color the youth participants dubbed “Ventra Blue.”

“The contribution our young people have made to our city and their own skill development has been tremendous, and what they have learned this summer will serve them for years to come,” said DFSS commissioner Butler. “Our One Summer youth have really made a difference and are contributing in the most positive of ways to their communities, their families and themselves.”

This year marked the first that One Summer Chicago Plus youth had the opportunity to work with the Mayor’s Infrastructure program, a partnership between CDOT, DSS and DFSS. This year, 1,000 of the total of 2,000 One Summer Chicago Plus youth participated in these job opportunities. These projects allow both youth and residents an opportunity to celebrate the completion of a project that will have an immediate benefit for a neighborhood.

Every year, One Summer Chicago provides youth ages 16-24 from communities across the city an opportunity to complete six or more weeks of work or career programming, contributing their skills and talents to Chicago’s vibrant communities. Since the program began, nearly 75,000 youth have gained valuable job training and work experience through One Summer Chicago.

The 24,000 youth participating in One Summer Chicago 2015 is the largest summer jobs program in the history of Chicago.

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