Dear Mayor Daley:
Our neighborhoods in Chicago are war zones. To date, more young people have been shot in Chicago than Soldiers in Iraq-159 students have been shot this school year alone. Cutting funds for education, after-school programs, and extra-curricular activities should never be an option. Now is not the time to take away the “live options” our children need to keep them learning and safe from the epidemic of urban violence.
We are in a state of emergency; there should be an urgency to shift funds to the appropriate programs. Mr. Mayor, we need you to be proactive; we challenge you to respond to this crisis. The Leaders Network requests that you meet with our group to discuss our plan for peace.
Five Point Peace Program
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called Sons of God.”
Peace must be made by the peacemakers; it is not the natural course in the world. City leaders must proactively intervene to stem the tide of urban youth violence.
Point 1: Chicago Police Department’s Silence Kills P.R. campaign
n The Leaders Network supports this effort. We will continue to challenge citizens to aide the police in solving crimes, and we offer our voices in formal partnership with the Chicago Police Department’s Silence Kills P.R. campaign.
Point 2: Expand and increase funding for Chicago Public Schools’ Safe Passage Program
n School principals have requested clergy to advocate for the hiring of more males to this program.
n In February 2010, CPS issued two requests for proposals (RFPs) to help implement The Safe Passage Program. School Community Watch, a program under Safe Passage, will only be implemented in 12 high schools.
n CPS issued a $5 million RFP for The Culture of Calm program. This initiative was started in September at schools with high incidents of violence
n We recommend that the budgets for these two programs be doubled to respond to this surge in urban youth violence
Point 3: Restoration of athletic and art programs for youth
n In March 2010, CPS cut spring sophomore sports, claiming the maintenance of this program costs more than the freshman and varsity programs. Now is not the time to cut funding for extra-curricular activities-students need live options.
Point 4: Expand the Safe Haven Program
n We are requesting the expansion of the program this summer for 8 to 10 weeks. This initiative operated for six days during winter break and five days during spring break.
Point 5: Double the budget for Youth Ready Chicago
n We are requesting that the budget for the summer jobs program be doubled. In 2009, nearly 20,000 jobs were provided with help from federal stimulus money. This year, roughly 14, 000 jobs are being offered. We need to be diligent about shifting funds to this program. This will help curb violence in our communities and stimulate the economy in Chicago.
The Leader’s Network
Cy Fields, president
Ira Acree, co-chairman
Marshall Hatch, co-chairman