Promoting For Engaging Community and Economic Growth For Youth
His name is John F. Kennedy (yes, like the President…) and his family were one of the first African American families to move into Chicago’s Auburn/Gresham neighborhood in the 60’s. He watch his father grow a family own trucking business from one truck to a small fleet of 5 over 38 years. Working side by side with his father he remembers what it taught him as a young man and how engaging in the business kept him out of trouble. This is something he says a lot of young men do not have and this discipline leaves some as pray to street violence.
Mr. Kennedy is an entrepreneur like his father and he runs a small media company which he uses to bridge the gap and break down barriers with youth in his community. “They come into my studio sometimes looking angry with their hats on and pants down, but by the time they leave, they are smiling with pants up and hats off.” He says, “Media is the one thing most youth consume everyday.” “If done right, we can use media as an effective tool for violence prevention and a way to pull them from the financial lurk the streets offers them, by turning the 4 industries they use into real business opportunities.”
His passion for community engagement got him involved in the Chicago Public School system as a parent volunteer and later as the PAC (Parent Advisory Council) President of two schools; Wadsworth Elementary on Chicago’s southeast side and Clara Barton Elementary on the Southwest side. At Wadsworth, he received an award from the Woodlawn Children Promise Community for his outstanding leadership in organizing parent participation in the school and community. And the increase of Father participate in his Father’s First program he developed at Wadsworth. His message to parents has always been… “Most of youth violence prevention is done through daily involvement in your children’s activities.” “So keep the lines of communication open.” At Clara Barton Elementary he helped in organizing a campaign to save the school from a possible turnaround, which he spoke on behalf of parents at several CPS meetings. They were successfully in stopping the decision and made history in doing it, hitting the front page of the Chicago Sun-times. After stepping down as PAC President, he focused on the much larger problem plaguing the community; youth violence. He soon founded the Chicago Village Project, an online community think-tank and youth advocate group where the community, the church, and police could discuss ideas and projects for long-term youth involvement. He is presently a task force member of the “Your Voice Matter” development in Auburn/Gresham on behalf of youth employment opportunities through the Greater Auburn/Gresham Development Corporation (GAGDC).“