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If jobs stop bullets, why aren’t more companies stepping up?

By Lisa Bertagnoli,

Can jobs stop bullets?

In violence-spiked Chicago, it’s a question that policy wonks and politicians keep asking. And while plenty of companies tout altruistic hiring practices, fewer than you think are making lasting commitments to training, hiring and promoting the under- and unemployed. For this special section, Crain’s studied the correlation between joblessness and violence in many Chicago neighborhoods, then talked to business owners who are hiring from the ZIP codes that are most in need of investment.

Bronzeville resident Jada Rouselle was volunteering at a local nonprofit when an aunt told her about LeadersUp, a program that connects young adults who need jobs with companies that need employees. Thoughtful and driven, Rouselle, 21, had spent a semester and a half at Southern Illinois University but dropped out when she could no longer afford tuition.

Through LeadersUp, she was tapped for a class that trains people for customer service jobs at C.H. Robinson, a third-party logistics firm that employs 2,000 people, or 15 percent of its global workforce, in the Chicago area. Rouselle began working as a customer service rep at the company’s Lincoln Park office in April 2016. Now she makes enough to pay her tuition at a community college, and has health benefits, a 401(k) and life insurance. “I have become more of an adult,” Rouselle says. “I am happy and grateful that I can take care of myself.”


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