Rappers and non-profits team up for youth jobs program and Jackson Park music festival

By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
Staff Writer

Rap artists and native Chicagoans Common and Kanye West have partnered with the Chicago Urban League to create the Chicago Youth Jobs Collaborative. The collaborative will offer year-round jobs to youth and host an annual music festival in Jackson Park.

Common and his Common Ground Foundation; Andrea L. Zopp, president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, and rapper Rhymefest, Kanye West’s Donda’s House Inc. creative director, announced that the collaborative will organize public, private and nonprofit stakeholders collectively to advocate for resources and support services to address youth employment needs.

The collaborative aims to provide year-round jobs to a minimum of 1,000 youth between the ages of 16 to 24 with the intent to increase this number by 1,000 per year over the next four years, for a target of 5,000 youth impacted over the next five years.

Year-round job opportunities and support services will significantly improve the well-being of our youth and strengthen our city, Zopp said.

“Summer jobs provide tremendous opportunities, but we often hear strong pleas from young people for year-round jobs,” said Zopp, at a press conference attended by Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th). “In addition to providing financial resources and a strong work ethic, jobs keep youth out of harm’s way.”

The Common Ground Foundation and Donda’s House Inc. also announced the launch of an Annual Music Festival, The AAHH! FEST, with proceeds from the Festival supporting the Common Ground Foundation, Donda’s House Inc., arts education in Chicago Public Schools and that Year-Round Youth Jobs initiatives.

“With the joining of these great organizations, we hope to continue the efforts of so many other organizations and the City of Chicago to create opportunities throughout the year for our youth and challenge our city to do even more on the ground,” Common said. “Our efforts will culminate in a musical celebration every year that will include resources offered to Chicago kids, directly related to placing them with an opportunity that can provide them hope and stability.”

The AAHH! FEST, will be held Sept. 20 and Sept. 21 in Jackson Park at 6300 S. Hayes Drive. Day One will feature a diverse, all-star line-up of talent from across the country and Chicago. Donda’s House will curate day two and showcase Chicago’s aspiring talent. The festival will also host a job-shadowing program, which allows youth to learn operations connected to producing a high-profile outdoor special event.

For information about the Chicago Youth Jobs Collaborative, visit http://www.thechicagourbanleague.org/page/580.

d.phillips@hpherald.com