by Lesley R. Chinn
Education and economic empowerment go hand-in-hand and that was the focus of a spring summit hosted last Thursday by the Chicago Urban League at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.
The Urban League gathered together economic, education, business leaders, and concerned citizens to discuss how working together, the city and region can advocate for quality education for children, return more people to the workforce, and secure more business opportunities for minority-owned companies. The summit was presented by National City, now part of PNC.
PNC, which was previously known as the Pittsburgh National Corporation, began as the Pittsburgh Trust and Savings Company in 1852 before it merged with the Philadelphia-based Provident National Corporation in 1982.
The summit began with a State of Urban Chicago address by interim president/CEO Herman Brewer who said that while the collapse of the financial system has had a devastating impact on minority communities, they may never recover if action isn’t taken to help improve conditions. “Some neighborhoods on the South and West sides of Chicago have become modern day tragedies born out of the disappearance of education and economic opportunity. This harsh reality brings us here to participate in dialogue and find tangible solutions to alleviate the suffering, and improve the fortunes of everyone,” Brewer said.
As the Chicago Urban League’s education funding lawsuit progresses, Brewer unveiled the organization’s new education policy recommendations. The publication—Opportunity Compact: Education 2010: A New Blueprint for Communities and Schools—calls on the state’s public education funding structure to be targeted to support four priorities. They include increasing expectations for students; ensuring schools get quality teachers and learning; family engagement in learning, and ensuring quality early childhood education.
After the “State of Urban Chicago” address, a CEO roundtable and breakout sessions were held to discuss strengthening the link between a quality education and economic empowerment and to address challenges in school funding, barriers to minority participation in professional services, and the job outlook for 2010 and beyond.