Arne Duncan Speaks at City Club of Chicago

May 2016

Speaking at the City Club of Chicago on Wednesday, May 3, Emerson Collective Managing Partner Arne Duncan brings context to the startling statistics and issues that young men face in Chicago. He provides a fresh perspective and optimism as he shares Chicago CRED’s learnings thus far.

When Arne returned to Chicago after seven years in the Obama Administration, he confronted the violence that had descended on his hometown. In the past five years, violence in Chicago has increased by roughly 50 percent. In 2016, 762 people were murdered and 4,331 people shot—numbers surpassing the metropolitan cities of Los Angeles and New York combined.

In summer 2016, Arne launched Chicago CRED (Create Real Economic Destiny), recruiting a team dedicated to accelerating job creation as an alternative to gangs. Arne’s essential belief: jobs can help stop violence. 

After a process of researching and consulting with the young people affected by the staggering daily violence, the team concluded that the single most effective tool to get young men off the street is employment. Scarce employment opportunities mean these men—many still in their teens—have no viable way to support themselves and their families, making them extremely susceptible to gang recruitment. In interviews Arne conducted, several young men stated that making a steady $11 to $13 per hour income would be the opportunity for financial stability they never had.

Over the past year, CRED has been testing this hypothesis with a pilot project that employs 30 young men, as well as provides counseling and a social and emotional support network. Recently, CRED recruited their second cohort. Partnering with local communities and businesses, CRED is working to replace the status quo with jobs.