Michelle Obama is going home. The First Lady will travel to Chicago next month to partake in a luncheon designed to address the city’s youth and gun violence. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel organized the luncheon, titled “Working Together to Address Youth Violence in Chicago,” to build a coalition of leaders and civic organizations invested in finding solutions for the gun violence plaguing the city. Some of the expected attendees include civic organizations like World Business Chicago and the Economic Club as well as business leaders like Thomas J. Wilson, Chairman, President and CEO of the Allstate Corporation.
“Chicago’s businesses are partnering with social service professionals and community groups to make our neighborhoods safer for innocent children,” Wilson said in a press release from Emanuel’s office. “The current level of violence has been decades in the making and is unacceptable. It’s time to fix this the Chicago way, working together.”
The attendees will gauge possible solutions to curb gun violence, but according to DNAinfo Chicago, Obama and Emanuel are also gathering these influencers to raise $50 million to support Emanuel’s initiative to increase youth engagement.
Emanuel hopes to challenge the business community to “support mentoring, intervention and conflict resolution programs, provide seed funding for new programs, and work to rebuild community supports in neighborhoods most impacted by violence” according to the press release.
Some of the initiatives Emanuel, Obama and Wilson are interested in funding is Windy City Hoops, a year-round basketball league aimed at engaging at-risk young adults, and Becoming A Man, a program sponsored by the Youth Guidance organization. Chicago has already invested $4.5 million in these programs because they reduce failing grades and arrests, increase graduate rates and keep youth from joining gangs according to Emanuel’s office. Becoming A Man boasts a 10 percent in graduation rates and a 44 percent decrease in violent crime arrests.
This is the crux of Obama’s interest in the luncheon. She urged community leaders to “invest in more opportunities for youth,” during a Feb. 28 visit to Chicago. Her participation in the luncheon is an extension of her dedication to the nation’s youth.
The luncheon will take place at the Hilton Chicago on April 10.