Earvin “Magic” Johnson continues to inspire the very community that reveres his aspiring legacy, as it’s just been declared Johnson along with Kimbra and Mark Walter, co-founders of the organization Inner City Youth Empowerment, are set to invest ten million dollars for the One Summer Chicago Plus program, geared at Chicago’s at-risk youth. The Windy City also plans to donate another $6 million to the overall budget.
From the huge funding, an extra 5,000 jobs will be provided for another two years towards the annual summer program and mentorships will be offered. Qualifying youth for One Summer had to have missed six to eight weeks of school or were previously in the juvenile justice system. It’s an expensive endeavor for the city, as each child “costs” $2,900 out of the grand amount, but it’s a commitment that has proven to derail an impressionable young generation from joining gangs and attempting further ill-fated decisions. Instead of being always being left to fend for themselves, especially in the summertime when school is out, One Summer participants will work twenty-five hours a week, thus gaining an increased work ethic and skills in leadership and teamwork.
Johnson, a known philanthropist, heard of Chicago Plus and was moved to participate in its positive journey. He speaks highly of his new venture, also on behalf of the Walter’s, “We are proud to partner on an initiative that has proven to change the trajectory of at-risk kids’ lives. Providing disadvantaged kids with alternatives is a step in the right direction toward helping them reach their full potential and curb violence in our neighborhoods.” The donations come after Chicago’s federal government had slowly begun to decrease its funding of summer jobs and programs and there was great concern on whether or not the city would be able to provide Chicago Plus.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has expressed gratitude for Johnson and the Walter’s grants, and in a release stated, “The city of Chicago, with the support of our community and business partners, remains committed to reducing violence in our city. Through this generous grant, more youth will stay safe, active and engaged this summer while getting the skills and on-the-job training necessary for a bright future.”
Considering its Black History Month, this type of news couldn’t have come at a better time! It’s fantastic to keep encouraging our brothers and sisters that we can do better, despite our circumstances.