The Chicago Urban League today launched its Blueprint for an Equitable Chicago: A 10-Year Plan, a comprehensive roadmap designed to improve opportunities for residents of the city’s most underserved communities identified in the organization’s March 2016 research study, The Impact of Chicago’s Racial Residential Segregation on Residence, Housing and Transportation.
The enduring segregation of a number of predominantly African American communities in Chicago has resulted in racially concentrated areas of poverty. These emerge from the intersection of residential segregation and income inequality, where over 40 percent of the residents live below the federal poverty level. For 19 of the 77 Chicago community areas that meet the criteria for a racially concentrated area of poverty, the challenges are greater and burdens more significant than other areas in Chicago.
Over the next 10 years, Chicago Urban League will shine a light on the significant challenges faced by these communities since the Great Migration nearly 100 years ago, highlighting the ways in which the myriad policies and practices developed under a system of structural racism have resulted in decades-long disinvestment in neighborhoods and the residents living therein. The League will lead a coordinated and sustained effort to 1) change the narrative regarding why these systemic structural inequities exist; 2) shift the focus from addressing the symptoms – poverty, violence, and family dysfunction – to addressing the root causes of inequality; and 3) encourage meaningful and sustainable reinvestment in the impacted areas to reduce violence, create more livable communities, and build a pipeline of talent to grow the Chicagoland economy.
In parallel, the League is also tackling gun trafficking and gun violence, symptoms of inequality that increasingly threatens the health and well-being of our communities.
“There’s a lot of great working being done by organizations across the city in trying to address the systemic socioeconomic issues that our communities face; however, dismantling structural racism requires a critical, collective effort,” said Shari Runner, President and CEO, Chicago Urban League. “It is with this sense of urgency that Blueprint for an Equitable Chicago provides concrete strategies with measurable outcomes to drive policies and practices that advance racial equity.”
Working from the core belief that education, employment and economic development are crucial to both individual wellbeing and the creation of strong, stable communities, the League’s 10-Year Plan includes concrete measurements of success to track the impact of the plan in reducing rates of racial inequity:
· Education as the Foundation for Future Success
o Increase African American youth high school graduation rates by 15%.
· Employment as the Foundation for Financial Security and Poverty Reduction
o Increase African American youth employment rates by 30%.
o Increase African American adult employment rates by 20%.
· Economic Development as the Foundation for Financial Asset Building and Wealth Building
o Increase African American business ownership rates by 5%.
o Increase African American home ownership rates by 10%.
The League will take great care in conducting a careful review of these areas to better understand the transformative work currently underway in the community. Its goal is to support and expand these efforts through partnerships with government, corporate, nonprofit and community stakeholders.
Phase 1 of the 10-Year Plan – conducting detailed community landscape analyses and identifying community champions – is in progress now and will run through July 2018. Importantly, a key aspect of Blueprint for an Equitable Chicago: A 10-Year Plan is its emphasis on collaborations to advance equity in Chicago. For organizations interested in joining forces with the League and its partners, please contact Stephanie Schmitz Bechteler, Ph. D., Vice President and Executive Director of the Research and Policy Center, Chicago Urban League, at SBechteler@thechicagourbanleague.org
“Our vision is that by 2026, residents of every community area in Chicago will have access to the services and supports they need not just to succeed, but to really thrive as members of the greater Chicago community,” said Dr. Bechteler. “The League’s 10-Year Plan is a focused effort that lays out our commitment to making racial equity a reality. When this happens, it sets the stage for a stronger African American community; and that, in turn, makes a stronger Chicago.”
Download a full copy of the report here.