Michelle Obama to Speak on Youth Violence in Chicago

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800px-Barack_MichelleWhen 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was shot and killed at a Chicago playground just a few days after performing at President Obama’s inauguration in January, First Lady Michelle Obama flew to Chicago to attend Pendleton’s funeral. At President Obama’s State of the Union speech, Pendleton’s parents sat next to the first lady.

 Now, Michelle Obama is heading back to her hometown to join Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the president’s former chief of staff, in urging the city’s business and philanthropic communities to raise $50 million for community-based programs to help at-risk young people.

She will speak at an April 10 lunch meeting called “Working Together to Address Youth Violence in Chicago,” which will be attended by members of several civic organizations, including the Commercial Club, the Economic Club, the Executives’ Club, and World Business Chicago, the White House announced yesterday.

The meeting is the result of an initiative led by two CEOs, Tom Wilson of Allstate and Jim Reynolds of Loop Capital, according to Emanuel’s office.

Wilson and Reynolds will head a coalition of business and community leaders, researchers and criminal justice professionals to identify, support and expand proven programs, monitor their effectiveness and encourage community engagement through donations and volunteer work, Emanuel’s office said.

“Chicago's businesses are partnering with social service professionals and community groups to make our neighborhoods safer for innocent children,” said Wilson in a prepared statement. “The current level of violence has been decades in the making and is unacceptable.”

In his own statement, Reynolds said he had been born and raised on the South Side of Chicago and had witnessed how community violence hurt the ability of its children to thrive.

“We expect the business community to play an important and active role in answering the Mayor’s call to invest in programs that serve some of our most vulnerable children,” Reynolds said.

Photo by vargas2040 | Flickr

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