Through the collective efforts of public officials, private businesses and local residents, Chicago’s South side has the largest urban solar plant in the nation. “It takes not one individual…it takes us all collectively,” said Ald. Carrie Austin (34th).
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included over $80 billion for the creation and expansion of renewable energy sources and clean energy technology in an effort to move the nation toward a more environmentally sound existence.
“As we recover from this recession, the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of jobs -– but only if we accelerate that transition…only if we seize the moment. And only if we rally together and act as one nation –- workers and entrepreneurs; scientists and citizens; the public and private sectors,” President Barack Obama said in his June 15 national address on the BP oil spill.
Citizens, community organizations, public officials and private businesses on Chicago’s South side are seizing the moment. On July 21, Mayor Richard M. Daley, Ald. Carrie Austin (34th), Exelon officials, Julie Blunden of SunPower and President/CEO of Riteway-Huggins Construction Larry Huggings, joined community members for the dedication of Exelon’s new solar power plant.
“In Chicago, the environment is a major component of our strategy to attract people and jobs, remain competitive in the global economy…Our challenge now is to seize the future and the opportunities it offers,” said Daley. “Those who do not see the future will not survive in this global economy.”
The 41-acre West Pullman site, a former industrial brownfield had been vacant for 30 years. Work on the plant began in July of 2009 after years of site remediation by Navistar International Corporation, the former owner of the site. Navistar, formerly International Harvester, owned the West Pullman Works site for more than 75 years. In 1996, they enrolled the property (21 acres) in the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) Site Remediation Program (SRP). In conjunction with community officials and organizations like Austin and the Victory Heights/Maple Park Advisory Council, remediation ended in September 2009 with the Remedial Action Completion Report currently under review by Illinois EPA. Projects like this take the entire community, not just one individual, according to Austin. “We have to…take our desolate areas and turn them into something,” she said. “It (the site) is something now…where we can have our children come in and learn.”
The plant, a $60 million project, has 32,292 solar voltaic panels. These panels convert sunlight into enough electricity (over 14,000 megawatthours) to meet the annual energy needs of up to 1,500 homes—emitting no carbon emissions, according to Exelon.
In addition to its benefits to the environment, plant construction created 200 construction jobs most going to local residents and about 40 percent of the contractors were minority-owned, according to Exelon Chairman and CEO John Rowe. The plant along with other clean energy sources throughout the city is, according to Daley, showing how a large city can live in harmony with the environment. The Exelon project is moving Chicago towards its environmental goals, as described in the Climate Action Plan—its strategy for lowering greenhouse gas emissions and addressing climate change in the city, Daley said. “The benefits of the Climate Action Plan go beyond the…goal of improving the environment. The actions that have the greatest impact…will also create jobs, save companies and residents money, enhance our quality of life and position the city and its residents for future economic growth.”
The legendary Chi-Lites, known for hits like “Have You Seen Her” and “Oh, Girl” are now in their 50th year and continue to delight audiences with their soulful vocals and impeccable style. They are “the sharpest cats on stage there ever was,” according to original Chi-Lites member Marshall Thompson. The Chi-Lites, consisting of Thompson, Frank Reed and Fred Simon, are currently on tour and will be featured at the Quentis Bernard Garth (QBG) Foundation Scholarship Gala on July 31st.
“I’m looking forward to it (the gala). It’s going to be fabulous,” Thompson said. The event is “very important to the Chi-Lites,” he continued. Growing up in Chicago, Thompson is more than aware of the challenges Chicago’s youth face. “All we had was the CDC, the Cadet Drill Corps [which] prepared young folks to be men and not to be violent,” he said, adding “there’s got to be a change…[QBG] is helping more lives stay alive.” Last month, the Chi-Lites performed at the “Forever Michael” memorial held in Los Angeles and next February through March they will embark on a European tour. With more than 23 top ten hits spanning 50 years, it’s no wonder the Chi-Lites continue to entertain audiences worldwide.
At a sundown prayer vigil last Wednesday, Chicago residents, members of the Park Manor community, and the Chicago Police Department (CPD) gathered to mourn, to honor and celebrate the life of police officer Michael Bailey. Bailey’s funeral was held Friday at St. Sabina’s Catholic Church. Officer Bailey died in an attempted robbery on the morning of Sunday, July 18 in front of his Park Manor home while cleaning his car. He’d just returned from his overnight post guarding Mayor Daley’s home. He was still wearing his uniform.
Bailey and the assailant(s) exchanged fire and he was fatally injured. The 62 year-old Bailey, was going to retire in August. Bailey, a great father and friend, according to family spokeswoman Stephanie Tatum, was also Vice President of the 74th and Evans Block Club. Speakers talked of Bailey’s dedication to his family, to his community. As they spoke of his life, they also spoke of their frustrations and the need to move forward, to come together and transform the community, their lives.
“We will not be scared,” said Darlene Tribue, President of the Park Manor Neighbors’ Community Council before a crowd of residents, ministers, officers and local officials at the intersection of 74th and Evans. “We stand strong as one Park Manor…Share yourself outwardly, love, show forgiveness…help repair the cracks in our village.” “I am very angry about what causes us to be here,” said Freddrenna Lyle, Alderman of the 6th Ward, also home to slain police officer and Iraq veteran Thomas Wortham IV. Lylestood amidst the crowd just a few feet from Henry O. Tanner Elementary School. “I went to Tanner,” she said, adding that she’d walk to school and back every day without fear of any harassment. “They had gangs,” she clarified,” but “they weren’t taking our babies and seniors…because they had respect…they were a part of the community… something’s changed.” Park Manor has to contend with this change. “We go through so much turmoil…to change,” Tribue said, adding that she hopes this can be a time to heal, rise up, thrive and grow in the great city of Chicago. Park Manor stretches north to south from State Street to Cottage Grove and east to west from 67th to 79th, encompassing about four square miles. Residents have been in Park Manor for 65 years, according to Tribue. “We had to fight to come in here and we’re going to fight to stay here,” she said. That fight requires courage and unity. “If we can quite finger pointing, we can point the shooters out,” said activist Andrew Holmes.
The reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer(s) of Officer Bailey was up to $65,000, Weis sad at the vigil. The Fraternal Order of Police Chicago is offering $25,000 and urges anyone with information to call Area 2 Detectives at 312-747- 8272. “We don’t care if the motivation is reward money, good citizenship or whatever. Just please let us get these criminals off the street. If they kill a police officer, the question comes up, “Who’s next?’” Weis said at a press conference last week. Bailey was the third officer killed since May. CPD has received calls threatening the lives of police officers, United Press International (UPI) reports. The threats, according to UPI, have been toward officers patrolling the Chatham community, where both Bailey and Wortham were residents. Weis said CPD takes the threats seriously but hasn’t found them to be credible, UPI reports.
Bailey’s death and the treats came just weeks after the city’s new handgun ordinance, which went into effect July 12. The ordinance requires that residents who own a firearm(s) or are looking to purchase a firearm(s) fill out an application for a Chicago Firearm Permit (CFP), necessary for legally registering a firearm. Visit www.chicagopolice.org for more details. In order to truly transform the city, to ensure the safety of its residents, it will take efforts on the part of police, public officials and residents—the entire community. “We have to bring the people responsible for this to justice,” said Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis. “As a community we can overcome this.”
Throughout the years, the Q.B.G. Foundation has helped create leaders who have gone on to work in both the corporate and private sectors. Many of them are making a positive impact in their respective communities where they are trailblazers in their own right. By providing financial assistance to deserving Black youths who want to further their education, Q.B.G. has given students a chance to shine, an opportunity to give back and for eighteen years, the foundation has awarded college scholarships to deserving Black youth totaling over $1 million.
My passion is to help young kids. I spend a lot of time helping them find employment both through the foundation and through the Chatham Business Association (CBA) where I am also Chairman. The young people there range in age from 14 to 24. My focus has also been to train young people to become entrepreneurs and two Saturdays out of the month, I meet with them at the QBG Foundation where we participate in activities that stress the importance of creating jobs. This is my passion, this is my focus…but it’s important for everyone to give back, each one to the best of his or her ability.
Giving back, changes the world. It changes generations and it does make a difference. Some may use poverty as an excuse for not giving of their time, resources, knowledge and/or skills. But it’s no excuse. As one of eleven children from Alabama, I was poor but was able to build a successful business in spite of the odds. Most people who are successful today, were born poor but when you give back, you create a cycle of help and a cycle of hope. By helping somebody else, they will in turn help the other person and the cycle repeats itself. Just like the change agents including Dr. King and other civil rights leaders whom I marched with fought for change, that’s what we should do.
When you come into the foundation, you will see an oil-painting of my son, Quentis, to the left and right across from it, a picture of myself. These pictures represent two generations of Garths. It was the loss of my son, Quentis, in 1989 which inspired me to start the foundation which is named after him.
Since its inception, we have been stressing the importance of education and using it as a tool to help facilitate change. At Q.B.G, we believe that what we do can change our youth, our communities and future generational leaders. We do this by giving inner city youth who may not have been able to go to college, a chance to succeed, awarding them up to $10,000 per student.
Our recipients have graduated from institutions like Clark Atlanta University; Tennessee State University; Florida A&M University; Chicago State University, Howard University; Tuskegee University; Spelman College; and Alabama A&M University. We are proud of them all. The QBG Foundation also boasts of a stellar list of past and present contributors, which without their help, none of this would have been possible. These partners have included Dominick’s, Jewel, ComEd, and Coca-Co, to name a few. We have also hosted other fund raising and community events, including the Q.B.G. Annual Rodeo and a Back to School and Wellness Fair, as well as a job fair sponsored by Target.
In keeping with the tradition of assisting aspiring Black students, Change Through Education: “Preparing Future Generational Leaders” the theme of this year’s gala, the Q.B.G. Annual Scholarship Awards Dinner and Fundraiser promises to be an exciting and powerful display of our mission and our purpose. We hope you will join us as we recognize both past and future recipients on Saturday, July 31st, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, located on 151 E. Wacker Drive. We will begin with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner promptly at 7 p.m. Our host will be V103’s Herb Kent featuring Chicago’s very own The Chi-Lites. We look forward to seeing you there
For young people looking for hope and a way to survive, an education is often the only way to turn a bad situation into something good. In an effort to effect positive change and provide hope for Chicago’s youth, the Quentis Bernard Garth (QBG) Foundation awards scholarships to hardworking college-bound high school seniors who need financial assistance. This year, the foundation identified students who are achieving even in the face of adversity.
Most can’t help but think of 16-year old Derrion Albert, the Fenger honor student whose death made national headlines. The innocent Albert was fatally beaten while leaving school last year. His death has greatly affected the school and the wider community. Now, there’s a different story unfolding at Fenger as recent graduates Glen Fulton and Christina Bass, along with Kiara Caradine, a 2010 graduate of Homewood-Flossmore High School, have been selected as recipients of the 2010 QBG Foundation “I Believe in Me” Scholarship. The scholarship, which will be presented at the Annual QBG Fundraiser and Dinner held at the Hyatt Regency Chicago at 5:30 on July 31, offers students a chance to excel in spite of the odds.
“When we see kids are having a hard time, we have to reach out to those kids and realize that if someone just believes in them, we could improve their lives,” QBG Chairman Bill Garth said. Believing in kids—that’s what the foundation set out to do when it looked at students who have overcome major obstacles, Garth added. With the scholarships, he hopes the foundation will help make a difference. QBG, in conjunction with its community and corporate partners, the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Central State University, Jewel, and ComEd, among others, are making sure that Bass and Fulton don’t have to worry about the cost of continuing their education.
Fulton, whose life has been side tracked by family issues, has lived with his twin sister in Chicago all of his life. The siblings grew up in the Robert Taylor Homes with their parents until they were ten when they were removed from their parents care by DCFS because of domestic violence.
The two were separated for a time while being raised by two of their aunts, but ended up back together at age 13 with their Aunt Lillian Fulton. Since then, they have been living in Roseland and attended Fenger High School for all four years. Despite some setbacks, Fulton only missed one day of school at Fenger during his freshman year where he gained a reputation for being kind and respectful.
When it comes to computers, he’s a wiz and over the years has learned to troubleshoot most computer problems, a skill, for the most part, he has learned on his own. At Fenger, he continues to work as part of the technology crew where the promise for success lies in his hope to attend Chicago State University where he plans to go on to study computer technology. As he worries about basic necessities like housing, he hopes the scholarship opportunity will help him to build on what he has already accomplished–putting him one step closer to a career in computers.
Bass, who has had to care for her mother who has cancer, aims first to attend the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC). If she does well, she may have a chance to further her education at the Illinois Institute of Technology, which works with the city colleges to help students build a pathway to succeed at the private four-year institute. Over the past several months, the Illinois Institute of Technology and the Office of the Chancellor at CCC have begun to set the groundwork to develop a coordinated path to IIT for students who are interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (traditionally referred to as STEM fields) as well as the fields of business, architecture and psychology.
According to Jerry Doyle, IIT’s Vice Provost of Admissions and Financial Aid, many students who start at one of the city colleges and then go on to complete their educations at IIT have done extraordinarily well in recent years completing research projects and academic work at the highest levels.
“The message that we need to send is this, ‘there are many paths to achieve your professional and personal goals in life and for a great many students, this path starts at a city college. At Illinois Institute of Technology, we are proud to partner with Chancellor Hyman and the presidents of the city colleges of Chicago to build clear pathways for students. We are equally committed to providing merit-scholarships and need-based financial assistance to enable students to realize their dreams.”
“We are committed to preparing the next generation for undergraduate and advanced degrees in STEM fields,” says Alan Cramb, IIT Provost and Senior Vice President. “At IIT, students who excel in these fields will be tomorrow’s leaders in improving and advancing the human condition,” he adds.
Doyle has also indicated that the Office of Admission very much wants to talk to students and their families who are interested in pursuing an undergraduate education at IIT for Fall 2010. There are dozens and dozens of highly qualified students in the city of Chicago who have the academic credentials at the secondary school or community college level but who have either not made a final choice for Fall 2010, or who as one incoming south side student recently told Doyle, “Going to IIT is the most important investment that I can make in my future, and that with IIT institutional grants and scholarships along with federal and state assistance, the education at IIT is affordable. Unfortunately, not everyone knows that there are financial and academic resources available to support a private school education. We just need to get this word out.”
It’s important to note that at IIT, every student applicant to the university will automatically be considered for Heald and University merit-scholarships (up to $10,000 each per year). In addition, IIT offers many full-tuition need-based scholarships for the residents of the city of Chicago; these scholarships also include assistance for housing, books and fees. IIT has committed to working with the Citizen Newspaper in an effort to recruit deserving underrepresented students. For more information, please call 773-783-1251.
The QBG initiative has captured the attention of the broader business community. A. Finkl & Sons, a Chicago-based manufacturer of specialty steel products, intends to relocate to the city’s south side. Finkl CEO Bruce Liimatainen, who has also served on the board of IIT, said, “Our company’s success and future growth depends on qualified employees and interns who are looking for real-world manufacturing experience. We support the QBG Foundation’s efforts to bring more young people into science and technology and are committed to furthering the cause.”
Central State University, located in Wilberforce, Ohio, is also partnering with QBG to provide a $10,000 scholarship to a deserving student. The university offers leading edge programs in urban education, manufacturing and environmental engineering as well as jazz studies and has graduated generations of leaders in fields ranging from education, business, and communications, to the natural sciences and the fine and performing arts. More than 80 percent of Central State University graduates go on to graduate school or pursue a career in their field within one year of graduation.
“Central State offers a welcoming and diverse community designed with the student in mind,” says Hedy Diop, president of Central State University-Chicago Alumni Chapter whose participating in the effort on a local level. “Our nurturing environment encourages both the intellectual and social development of our students; we will prepare students to not only excel in their chosen careers but also to lead and serve others. Here students will be part of a caring community. They will receive hands-on learning and personal mentoring by professors who truly care about their goals and ambitions.” Bass and Fulton live in the 34th ward. “There is no project without community partnerships…partnership[s] start with the community,” said Ald. Carrie Austin (34th). “Our children…that’s my future…my legacy…[it] is my charge to open up every [avenue],” she continued, adding that the charge allows them to say, to believe, ‘I can do things of substance.’”
“I really like taking care of people,” said Bass, who wants to go into nursing, criminal justice or another science-related field. “My mom is really sick…I’m busy trying to take care of her,” Bass continued. “This scholarship would mean a lot to me.” Caradine will be attending Concordia University in Wisconsin, where she will pursue courses in physical therapy. While running track she snapped her hamstring. Since going through physical therapy, she’s decided she wants to help others do the same. “I want to help people like me get back on their feet and continue to do something they love,” she said. As Garth looks ahead, he sees an opportunity to brighten the futures of many young people. “With all of our corporate and institutional partners, we can play a pivotal role in changing things on the South side and throughout Chicago,” he said. “That’s the key…that way, when you read the newspaper or turn on the television, it’s not about someone whose become the victim of some grave circumstance–it’s about someone who is succeeding, someone who is really trying and wants to succeed.”