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FROM ENTREPRENEURSHIP TO SUPPORT IN THE COMMUNITY, AFRICAN AMERICAN MALES ARE BEING LIFTED UP

8/2/2017, noon | Updated on 8/2/2017, noon
“I believe a person’s strongest qualities emerge when they’re backs are pushed against the wall. Entrepreneurship teaches you to act ...
Community programs and events in Chicago are helping to lift up Black males while entrepreneurship is opening doors for others. Photo Courtesy of Kahil Moore

FROM ENTREPRENEURSHIP TO SUPPORT IN THE COMMUNITY, AFRICAN AMERICAN MALES ARE BEING LIFTED UP

By Christopher Shuttlesworth

While staggering unemployment rates continue to spell doom for African American males who are either unemployed or underemployed, there may be hope at the end of the rainbow through entrepreneurship and community support.

The U.S. Census American Community Survey reports that the unemployment rate for Black males in Chicago triples the national average at 21 percent as more Black males in the city are unemployed and looking for work.

Jamica Quillin, the diversity & inclusion manager of strategic partnerships for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the program manager for Financial Services Pipeline (FSP) said, “the huge lack of diversity that exists within the Chicagoland financial services industry will have a negative effect on future competitiveness and equity in the Chicago region.”

FSP conducted a 200-page study which reported that jobs for Black and Latinos may decline in the financial services industry within five years if additional hiring methods aren’t developed to prevent it.

As Black males find themselves in job search mode, FSP serves as a pipeline to increase job opportunities for youth.

FSP recently held a 2017 Intern Career Conference on July 13, which brought in more than 100 interns at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago located on 230 S. LaSalle Street. The conference targeted interns who are in the early stages of their careers and who may be seeking long-term opportunities in the financial services industry.

FSP is also developing a Preparation and Community Presence predomain that will build youth visibility, understanding and confidence in the financial services industry.

"It’s about building confidence so interns can enter the financial service industry,"Quillin said.

A large part of the problem, she added, is that the financial sector is a very broad industry and many candidates don’t know what’s available to them.

“You may not think about getting into IT, human resources, wealth management, financial investments or even accounting,” she said. “But we are developing a domain that focuses on recruitment and hiring to increase professional hiring for African Americans and increase early exposure through internships,” she continued.

FSP Initiative members include: Ariel Investments, Bank of America, Illinois State Treasurer’s Office and others. Quillin said FSP also plans to partner with different educational programs that can offer pathways to a career in the financial services industry.

While FSP is opening doors for Black males and other youth in the financial services industry, Congressman Danny Davis and other community leaders are setting their sights on addressing a host of issues that affect African American men and boys.

Davis, along with the other leaders will host, “The State of the African American Male” conference in September. The conference will serve as an opportunity to address urgent issues related to black male population.

Many people are expressing grave concern regarding issues, problems, status and behavior of many African-American men and boys, Davis said in a statement. He added he’s working in collaboration with Annetta Wilson, and Sankofa Safe Child Initiative, Habilitative Systems Inc., The Westside Black elected officials, Fathers and Families who Care, Westside Ministers Coalition, Chicago Area Boy Scouts of America, Chicago City

Colleges, Iheartmedia, WVON Radio and a large number of other social service agencies, programs and the University of Illinois at Chicago to address some of the many pressing issues facing African American men and boys. Davis said the group plans to hold the conference at the University of Illinois at Chicago on September 8-9.

While community leaders are searching for solutions, 21 year old entrepreneur Kahil Moore said young Black men should also look towards owning their own businesses as an option. “Entrepreneurship is an extremely viable option for black men in Chicago,” Moore said. “it teaches you valuable lessons that can be applied to everyday situations.

“I believe a person’s strongest qualities emerge when they’re backs are pushed against the wall. Entrepreneurship teaches you to act with a bit of desperation in a sense, which I think is imperative in order for a person to reach their goals on time and on target.

It’s also important for African Americans to lift each other up and support black businesses in their own communities whenever and however possible. Doing so will teach our children, who are the future, how to take full advantage of the American Dream,” he said.