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Common posing with Donda's House executives at press conference

Artist, actor and philanthropist Common was joined by Andrea L. Zopp, CEO of the Chicago Urban League and Rhymefest, the creative director of Kanye West’s Donda’s House, Inc., to announce the launch of  the AAHH! Fest and the creation of the Chicago Youth Jobs Collaborative.

Both projects will serve to support Chicago youth and organize resources to secure year-round jobs for young people ages 16 to 24, and is one of the first collaborative efforts of its kind in Chicago.

“I am very proud to be where we are,” Common said during the press conference at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. “I know what a job can do for a human being. It takes up your time for something productive. If we get these kids jobs, I guarantee: we’ll see less crime in the streets. But we have to be the change.”

The key groups involved include: Common’s Common Ground Foundation, Donda’s House, Inc., the Chicago Urban League, Alternative Schools Network (ASN), Centers for New Horizons, and the Chicago Jobs Council, with the enthusiastic support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City of Chicago.

The Problem

According to a University of Chicago study, over half of the victims of gunfire in Chicago are between the ages of 10 and 25. The report also states that young minority males are vastly over-represented as both victims and offenders of gun violence, and that just some of the contributing factors include poverty and mental health problems.

Also, per a CDC report:

In 2010, 4,828 young people ages 10 to 24 were victims of homicide—an average of 13 each day:

• Homicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24 years old.

• Among homicide victims 10 to 24 years old in 2010, 86% (4,171) were male and 14% (657) were female.

Common Announces The Chicago Youth Jobs Initiative  was originally published on

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