Urban League works to create parity with future-focused jobs training for Black Chicagoans

Evelyn Holmes Image
Thursday, June 1, 2023
Urban League offers future-focused jobs training for Black Chicagoans
The Urban League is working to combat racial disparities with training in renewable energy and trades for Black Chicagoans.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Kalen Stanley's future is bright.

Newly certified as a solar energy panel installer, the 24-year-old hopes to own his own business soon.

"Everything is put against you. Everybody expects little from you," Stanley said.

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A report by the Chicago Urban League outlined how the lack of racial equity and inclusion negatively impacts African Americans living in the city.

"Challenges in education and health care. Challenges relative to housing, wealth development, income gaps," said Chicago Urban League President Karen Freeman-Wilson.

The report, entitled "The State of Black Chicago," is the organization's periodic examination of racial inequities seen in 27 predominately Black communities in Chicago's 77 neighborhoods.

This year's report focuses on the burden of being Black, and examines the economic disparities in employment that many African Americans see.

The league's conclusions are a combination of stats from the U.S. Census, Chicago Public Schools and other public information. A sampling of the findings show, in Chicago, the average Black family household income is $35,965 compared to the $82,294 the average white family earns.

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One way to fix the problem is to create parity. The Chicago Urban League has partnered with Trinity United Church's Imani Village to offer training in trades and renewable energy at their 27-acre multi-use community.

"We believe that we need to have a base where individuals from our community can be a part of that green community," said Imani Village Director Patricia Eggleston.

On Thursday, the effort had 18 graduates, including 24-year-old Dawnisha Escobel, who hopes a change will come.

"It's a struggle, but you just take it day by day, and don't give up," Escobel said.