Obama Foundation, Thrive Chicago release action plan based on youth feedback

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Young men of color from some of Chicago's most dangerous neighborhoods gathered for a youth summit launched by the Obama Foundation and nonprofit Thrive Chicago on Friday.

"This is a chance for the young people to talk about their hopes, their fears, their pains and what their needs are," said Michael Tidmore, a youth mentor with Teamwork Englewood.

Tidmore's group was part of focus groups hosted by Thrive Chicago and the Obama Foundation over the past six months. The point was to put together an action plan based on the men's stories and needs.

"We bring together government leaders, we bring together non-profit leaders and philanthropy and we say, 'Hey, these are the ideas of young people. What are your commitments to make this a reality?'" Thrive Chicago's Sandra Abrevaya said.

Many of the men have endured major trauma in their short lives.

"Losing your best friends, jail, being broke, nowhere to go," 19-year-old Dequantis Dangerfield said of what he has experienced.

"I was a victim of gun violence in Little Village," 16-year-old Alex Ramon said. "It was horrible, but you have to get over it."

Terrance Hopper, 18, said he's been through "countless foster homes."

Despite the hardships, the teens say mentors and support from neighborhood programs have given them hope. They hope the action plan put out Friday will keep them on a positive path.

"I'm very hopeful. I pray about it because I grew up mostly being neglected by people so with this program, people will have a better chance to fix themselves," Hopper said.
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