Friday, March 2, 2012


Alderman Michael D. Chandler, in conjunction with the Lawndale Business & Local Development Corporation (LBLDC), presented a breakfast forum meet & greet for West Side businesses at The Roscoe Company headquarters, located at 3535 West Harrison Street. The breakfast was convened to give 24th Ward businesses an opportunity to discuss concerns, obtain valuable information on city and state small business programs and assistance. Representatives of the Chicago Police Department were also present to field questions about crime and public safety, and discuss programs available to local businesses. More than 60 business owners, government employees, and representatives of community organizations and agencies attended the breakfast. “I am delighted to have this opportunity to interact with our local businesses in this type of forum,” Alderman Chandler said. “It is important for me to hear your concerns, and to discuss with organizations like the Lawndale Business & Local Development Corporation programs and services available to local businesses to help improve and enhance the climate of the 24th Ward.” Eric Strickland, LBLDC Executive Director, responded, “We are pleased to partner with 24th Ward Alderman Michael D. Chandler and The Roscoe Company to sponsor this important event. We thank Alderman Chandler for his leadership and commitment in working to bring local businesses together to enhance, promote, and expand the business development climate and opportunities here in the 24th Ward.” James Buik, President of The Roscoe Company, said it was a pleasure hosting the breakfast and his company looks forward to working closely with the Alderman and area businesses. Among businesses attending the breakfast were: Jimmy G’s Restaurant, Creative Hair Salon, Safeway Construction Company, Saint Anthony Hospital, Nationwide Furniture Wholesalers, MAACO Auto Body, Charter Steel Corp., Commonwealth Edison, Able Electropolishing, United Quick Corp., GATTO Industries, as well as the Chicago Dept. of Housing & Economic Development, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, U.S. Postal Service, and Ill. Dept. of Employment Security. Alderman Chandler concluded the breakfast saying, “It is my intention to have this type of business forum on a quarterly basis as I work with the local businesses in the 24th Ward to become more successful now and into the future. I am committed to providing every possible business development resource we can identify to maintain, increase, and expand business and employment opportunities within the 24th Ward.”


The 18-member Debate Team from Austin Business & Entrepreneurship Academy is attracting citywide attention for its argumentation skills and its identifiable sweaters & bandanas. (Photo by Charles Smith)
    In its first year, the Austin Business & Entrepreneurship Academy Debate Team is attracting positive notice across Chicago. In one tournament, the Austin debate squad placed 4th out of 22 schools and in another, they placed 3rd. In debate meets, individuals earn wins and the team gains points toward competitive ranking. At one meet, Kyle Thomas and Raquan Ferguson compiled a 6-1 record working together. Austin debaters are also being recognized for their style and presentation skills.
    This year’s question being debated by all teams across the country is that the United States should colonize the moon and stars in preparation for the time the earth’s resources are exhausted, a nuclear or biological war makes life on earth impossible, or an epidemic threatens the human race. Debaters must research the topic and be able to argue both sides of the question, while discounting the arguments of the opposing teams.
    Austin’s Debate Coach Aubrey Monks realizes there is more to winning than strong arguments well presented. She has some other tricks up her sleeve to make sure her Austin team is differentiated from all other schools and intimidates their opponents. She outfitted her team in black sweaters with a large white A on the front. She says this so wowed everyone at the tournament that several other schools adopted uniforms. So, she got her Austin debaters black & white bandanas, pocket squares, and cravats. Now, all the judges know Austin! Daviea Freeman also coaches the Austin Academy Debate Team.
    But, you can’t win a debate if you don’t have the facts, can’t reason clearly, can’t think on your feet, and aren’t able to express yourself articulately. So, Austin’s Debate Team goes on winning.


Community Bank Lending Specialist Bernard D. Headley II and Marketing Officer Frank Frigo present a Champion Grant to Sarah’s Inn Board Member Laura Hunnewell and Domestic Violence Victim Advocate Liz Figeroa-Serrano.
    Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest announced that Sarah’s Inn is the most recent recipient of a Champion Grant. The mission of Sarah’s Inn is to stand with, protect, and assist victims of domestic violence and their children, and work to ensure freedom from domestic violence. Sarah’s Inn serves Chicago’s West Side neighborhoods and 22 West Cook County suburbs.
    The purpose of the Champion Grant is to help organizations providing community outreach and assistance programs for low and moderate income individuals.


On February 1, Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard traveled to Herbert Spencer Technology Academy, 214 North Lavergne Avenue, to demonstrate space-age technology while teaching astronomy to more than 400 middle school students in 19 classrooms of 10 schools simultaneously. The occasion was the first National Digital Learning Day, the first in a series of digital initiatives during the week, providing principals, teachers, and students with increased access to technology and online learning opportunities designed to boost student achievement. “Developments in technology are opening doors to exciting new opportunities to expand learning in the classroom,” said Jean-Claude Brizard. “We need to equip our students with the skills needed to be competitive in this global economy. Exposure to digital learning tools is key in giving them an edge as they prepare for both college and career.” To demonstrate the impact of digital learning, CEO Brizard, a former physics teacher, taught a science lesson to middle school students at Spencer Technology Academy by using an iPad. The lesson, which focused on gravity and the solar system, was broadcast to nearly 400 additional middle school students in 19 remote classrooms at 10 additional CS schools. As part of the lesson, students used Orbits iPad application to explore the relationship between the mass of celestial bodies and their orbits. At the end of the lesson, students used iPad applications to create narrated screencasts explaining what they learned. Last fall, CPS expanded its iPad Initiative to 39 additional elementary schools, providing students with access to innovative learning options that aim to increase student time on task and boost academic achievement. The CPS iPad Initiative includes 62 schools serving 10,000-plus students this school year. CPS is also responding to recommendations from teachers on expanding access to digital learning tools in the classroom by lifting the districtwide ban on YouTube access for teachers and staff. CPS received feedback from 600 CPS teachers through the Viva Teachers Chicago Ideas Exchange, a partnership between the Viva Project and National Louis University, on implementation around the Full School Day. Feedback included providing access to YouTube and similar websites to allow teachers increased flexibility, quantity, and variety of education materials. Additional Internet access also allows teachers to be more creative and individualized in their instruction, which can lead to an increase in student engagement. On January 30, Brizard became the first CPS CEO to host a live “tweet” and personally answer questions from parents, teachers, and community members on the District Twitter feed, @ChiPubSchools. Over the past several months, the Education Technology Department of CPS has focused on improving teaching and learning by providing transformational technology opportunities and curricula aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Some of the initiatives include: • Providing YouTube access to expand online learning tools for teachers. • Implementing innovations in the classroom, such as iPads. • Digital media such as eTextbooks. • Video conferencing. • Providing professional development to teachers. • Increasing Digital Citizenship.


Members of the L.E.A.D.E.R.’s Network responded to reports of numerous bodies stacked on top of each other in disorganized and unsanitary conditions within the Cook County Morgue, some bodies lying unidentified and unclaimed for almost a year. The West Side pastors visited the Morgue on January 27 to examine conditions and to pray for the souls of the deceased. They demanded a thorough response to the tragedy by the Cook County Board and President Toni Preckwinkle. They also called for a remediation plan to ensure no repeat of this scandal and offered to be members of an oversight committee for Morgue operations. Reverend Cy Fields, President of the L.E.A.D.E.R.’s Network, declared, “This is immoral and is disrespectful of the families of the dead. As pastors, we are moved with compassion to offer pastoral care for these unnamed souls.” Reverend Marshall Hatch stated, “Every human being deserves dignity in death. County officials must be held accountable to the citizens and to God for this sacred trust. Given the level of disorganization and neglect at the Morgue, any one of these bodies could have been any one of us.” Reverend Ira Acree said, “This is a national embarrassment. We should not have a pile-up of bodies in the downtown shadow of a world class city.” The L.E.A.D.E.R.’s Network requested to meet with President Preckwinkle and offered to assist in resolving the crisis. They were taken up on their offer and were included with pastors from across Cook County in a briefing by the County Board President. The meeting was held February 1, and the West Side pastors characterized it as “fruitful and substantive.” They say they expect to review an overhaul plan in 30 days and said, “We have reason to believe that the public will be well served.” They also say they expect a community advisory board will be put in place. L.E.A.D.E.R.’s Network members “offered to work with the President’s Office on a wide range of county issues,” according to Pastor Cy Fields, L.E.A.D.E.R.’s Network President.


As part of an effort to promote healthy lifestyles among students, faculty, and staff, the City Colleges of Chicago Board of Trustees passed a 100% tobacco-free campus policy, becoming the largest higher education institution in Chicago to do so. The policy, which takes effect March 1, prohibits tobacco use (including cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products) on all college property, affecting more than 120,000 students and 5,800 faculty and staff, as well as visitors.
    “This is an important step towards ensuring that our students have healthy and safe environments to live, learn, play, and succeed,” declares Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Promoting healthy environments is crucial to securing a high-quality of life for Chicagoans in every neighborhood, supporting a vibrant economy, and keeping our city on the cutting edge.”
    The policy covers City Colleges’ seven satellite locations and the district office. City Colleges is offering Courage to Quit smoking cessation classes and other resources to assist students, faculty, and staff at each college who want to quit smoking or stop using other tobacco products. These resources will be available at new college Wellness Centers.
    “As we reinvent our institution to ensure students are prepared to compete for the jobs of the future, we must also provide a learning environment that protects their future health and well-being,” explains Chancellor Hyman. “The tobacco-free policy helps create a college environment that promotes a healthy lifestyle among our faculty, staff, and students, and benefits the entire City Colleges community.”
    “The policy is critical in saving lives, and is an important step in implementing the City’s public health agenda, Healthy Chicago,” says Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. “College students use tobacco at a higher rate than the average of adults across the nation and we applaud City Colleges of Chicago for its bold move to help reduce tobacco use and decrease exposure to secondhand smoke,”
    Prior to adopting the policy, City Colleges conducted a survey of students, faculty, and staff, which found that 85% of respondents said that a tobacco-free policy would improve health for staff and students. 80% of those surveyed believe the policy will introduce changes in social norms, creating a healthier school environment. More than half of all smokers surveyed said that on-campus smoking cessation programs will help them transition to a tobacco-free lifestyle.
    The Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago (RHAMC) assisted City Colleges in crafting its policy. Joel Africk, RHAMC President and CEO comments, “Studies have shown that tobacco-free policies make it easier for people who want to quit smoking to be successful and decrease the likelihood that others will start. This is especially true when an institution offers group classes or other free resources to help people quit smoking.”
    The City Colleges of Chicago District-wide Student Government Association voted unanimously to support the tobacco-free campus policy. This policy is just the first component in City Colleges’ overall Healthy Campus initiative, which will also include healthy and affordable food choices, zero tolerance for violence/bullying, green initiatives, and other healthy activities.


Paul Simon Chicago Job Corps Center intern India Collins completes her Work-Based Learning requirement in Graphic Design at THE VOICE Newspapers under the direction of Senior Art Director Jeff Potter. India typesets and lays out the papers and works on the publications’ website. (Photo by Isaac Jones)
   India Collins is the most recent of 7 Graphic Design students from the Paul Simon Chicago Job Corps Center to serve her Work-Based Learning internship at THE VOICE Newspapers. The native Chicagoan celebrating her 19th birthday on February 12, is President of the Chicago Job Corps Center Student Government Association and is traveling to Washington, D.C., with a delegation from the Paul Simon Center next week to meet with Congressman and Senators to encourage them to support the Job Corps program because of its successful record of preparing young people, ages 16-24, for rewarding careers.
    India lived in several states as she was growing up. She says although moving around so much was a little frustrating for her, she took it as an opportunity a lot of people don’t have to see other parts of the country and meet different people. She lived in Tennessee, Georgia, Indiana, and Florida, beginning when she was 7 years old.
    At age 17, she moved to West Palm Beach, Florida, without her family. India says this was hard on her mother because she was her first daughter and she worried about India’s safety, moving so far away.
    In Florida, India spent her time singing and writing music with friends she met in Indiana. She was also on the beach and at the pool soaking up sun. India says she knew life wasn’t all fun and games, so she moved back to live with her parents in Indiana so she could enroll in college. She wanted to study Fashion Design, but the cost prevented her from attending the schools she selected.
    India worked two jobs to earn the money she needed for college. Things just weren’t coming together the way she hoped, so she reconsidered the recommendation that she apply to the Job Corps. She decided the Job Corps was an attractive option because it gave her the opportunity to earn her GED and obtain career training in Graphic Design at the Chicago Center. She was interested in the Graphic Design field, but also needed the course as a prerequisite for obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design.
    A few months later, India was on a Greyhound Bus with her sister, on their way to the Paul Simon Job Corps Center in Chicago. Her fourth week on campus, she passed her GED exam and received an $80 bonus for earning it in less than 90 days. A couple months after that, she earned all of her required certifications in graphic design – Photoshop, HTML, and Dreamweaver. Her next step is to complete her internship at THE VOICE, the final requirement for graduation.
    After completing her program, she plans to attend the School of the Art Institute to achieve her dream of becoming a fashion designer. She says the Job Corps gave her the launch she needed!

The Paul Simon Chicago Job Corps Center is a program of the U.S. Department of Labor providing training in nine trade disciplines & GED preparation. The Center is located at 3348 S. Kedzie Ave., in Chicago. All training courses are provided at no cost and free room & board are available on Campus. Tours are conducted every Friday morning at 10:30 AM. No appointment is required. New students are admitted to the course programs every week throughout the year. For information regarding the Paul Simon Chicago Job Corps Center, call Beth Allen at 773/890-3131.