Founder Takes Youth Violence Prevention Center Stage
His name is John F. Kennedy (yes, this is his real name) and his family were one of the first African American families to move into Chicago’s Auburn/Gresham neighborhood in the late 60’s. His parents were proud southern people who always encourage him and his sibling to do their best in anything they did in life. He watch his father grow a family own trucking business from one truck to a small fleet over 38 years. Working side by side with his father taught him the fundamental of how to run a business, but he says it taught him more about engagement.
Mr. Kennedy is an entrepreneur who has run his own media company for the past 17 years and has used media as a bridge to break down barriers with troubled youth. “They would come into my studio looking angry with their hats turned to one side and by the time they would leave, they were smiling with their pants up and hats off.” He says, “Media is the one thing most youth and young adults completely absorb themselves with every day.” “We need to use media as an effective violence prevention tool to pull youth away from what the streets are giving them financially.
His passion for community service got him involved 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. His message to parents has always been… “Most of the youth violence prevention is done through involvement in your children’s daily activities.” 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 and they were successfully in stopping the closure. After stepping down as PAC President, he focused on a 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 violence prevention. He is presently a task force member of the “Your Voice Matter” development in Auburn/Gresham on behalf of youth employment opportunities.