Recently, Governor Rauner took action to freeze most Youth Development Programming grants, instructing afterschool and youth employment programs to cease all operations funded with state money, even though the funds had been appropriated and contracts signed.


Ninety-two percent of Black males in Chicago between the ages of 16-19 are unemployed, and the situation isn't improving as these youth reach adulthood. In Chicago, nearly 23 percent of 20-to-24-year-olds were out of school and out of work, and young adults of color were eight times more likely to be disconnected from school and work than their white counterparts. Meanwhile, the number of shootings in Chicago increased 14 percent last year.


This is the state of the state in my district. I invite Gov. Rauner to tour my neighborhood, to see how defunding is destabilizing communities, diminishing hope and deferring dreams.


The organizations that lost funding serve Black and Brown communities where opportunities are few and hope is fleeting. They have been the foot soldiers on the ground, transforming lives and equipping young people for better and more productive adulthood.


Gov. Rauner says he wants Illinois to become the most competitive and compassionate state in the nation. Where is the compassion? And without mentoring, job training and a chance to work, how can the next generation of low-income minority youth hope to compete?


My colleagues and I who represent chronically disadvantaged communities are seeking answers. In yesterday's speech, we heard about opportunities for minorities. But what we've seen so far is those opportunities denied for our youth. Let's move beyond rhetoric to solutions — to uplift not just an economy, but communities that work to create a society that is both competitive and compassionate.

Contact Info

Chicago Office:
1155 W. 79th St.
Chicago, IL 60620
(773) 224-2830

Springfield Office:
M114 Capitol
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-1607

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