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‘IMAGINE ENGLEWOOD IF’ OFFERS A CHANCE TO GIVE BACK

3/22/2017, noon | Updated on 3/22/2017, noon
“Imagine Englewood If ” presented its Growing Citizen Leaders program and held an interest meeting Mar. 13,2017 at 730 W. ...
Michelle Rashad, who is a Howard University graduate, discusses why she gave up her job in corporate America to come back to serve in the Englewood community. Photo by Chris Shuttlesworth

‘IMAGINE ENGLEWOOD IF’ OFFERS A CHANCE TO GIVE BACK

By Christopher Shuttlesworth

“Imagine Englewood If ” presented its Growing Citizen Leaders program and held an interest meeting Mar. 13, 2017 at 730 W. 69th st. The Growing Citizen Leaders Program (GCL) is a unique and life changing program devoted to providing a safe space for teens to interact with their peers, build an intentional community and engage in meaningful, issue-based environmental and social justice work. The youth will earn over 200 hours of community service, receive monthly stipends, lead a lead Poisoning Prevention campaign, promote Healthy Living in Englewood and qualify for $10 per hour summer job opportunities, according to a press release.

The program is also producing leaders who have become examples to some of the youth the program seeks to help.

Howard University graduate Michelle Rashad, a program manager for ‘Imagine Englewood If’ recently sat down with the Citizen and discussed why she walked away from her job in corporate America to come back to serve in Englewood, a neighborhood where she grew up as a teenager.

Citizen How important is it to invest in youth at an early age?

Rashad It’s very important. I once read a quote that said “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” And that’s true because I work for several different organizations and I’m a product of a program very similar to the Growing Citizen Leaders that came out of Imagine Englewood If. I went to Lindblom Math & Science Academy, which is a selective enrollment school in Englewood. It’s like an island because you think of these schools in Englewood and a lot of them aren’t performing to the standards that they should. But then you have this selective enrollment school that’s doing awesome, but you only had so many kids in the school that was actually from the area. So, I had a History teacher come to me and say “There’s an organization taking a group of kids to Washington, D.C. to talk to some congressman about issues.” So, I’m like ‘Okay.’ We went to D.C. and spoke to Congressman and afterwards I liked the group. I liked the fact that I could do something after school in addition to everything else I was doing. But I’m a product of someone believing that you needed some leadership skills and that youth needed to express their voice. Citizen

What is an interesting fact about your life or role as an organizer? Rashad

I feel like when I left college, I would have thought that I would have been working for some media company right now because I studied Media Management and I minored in Business Administration at Howard University. So, going away kind of brought me back because at Howard, which is an

historically black university, they always taught us to learn who we are, how did we get to where we are and never forget where you came from. So, I decided to come back home and I did an internship with PBS and I was like ‘Mmm, this is how the media world is. But I was like okay, but I’m trying to make some money.’ So, I used my business background and I began working in corporate America as a data specialist and I felt like I was