Poor school systems, food droughts, and recycling violence are enough to stop any flourishing young mind. Chicago, one city that is home to so many different groups of people and environments. From one side to the very next, different realities are being experienced every day. From the effortless sense of safety to the overwhelming and unsettling fear that one may be walking in their last days. So much negativity surrounding a single person on a daily is enough to understand how, why, and if a person were to be dragged in. While on the other hand, some people are able to make it out of the institutionalized cycle with only obtaining enough success to never have to return, leaving others in the dust to fight.

Although seeming to be concrete compounded on top of many, three very ambitious young men not only wanted to be the rose that broke the mold but wanted to be the helping hand to those surrounding them. Alajuwan Moore-Brown, Chance Mitchell, and Quinton Hamilton three young men living in a day and age where they are hyper-masculinized and subjected to harsh realities that are pushed on them have decided to take their future into their own hands as well as give others the key to doing the same. Doing so by creating an uncommon opportunity for many of Chicago’s youth that has been neglected by the school system. These young men were very conscious about their surroundings knew where the heart of the issues lied, which is within Chicago’s youth. Along with Imani Crews and LaToya Tucker, this progressive group aims to tackle a plethora of Chicago based matters. Main issues being the lack of opportunity, information, and encouragement on how to peruse not only higher education but also their dreams.

With the help of a parent foundation Oakwood Shores Community Builders, they sought out to create an initiative that was to encompass and encourage growth, education, and passion within teens that are looking to better themselves. The name of this group is The Youth 360 Initiative. ?”Youth 360 Initiative is simply community improvement, the youth, and adults of the community coming together to share their ideas to help this initiative be able to be all that it can be”, stated by Mitchell. ?Whereas Brown described this initiative to be more than his two co-founders but as a community effort. ?In the makings of this organization, it has shown us that people and the youth in Chicago are more than bullets and guns that they have more to offer than what a few people in the community are offering?. Generalization of the Chicago?s black community is so far from being true because so many young people are willing to put in the work but don?t know where to start to do so.

The Youth 360 Initiative has provided a platform for Chicago?s youth to help challenge the realities around them and helps them seek out their dreams. Knowing that many teens aren?t offered the same opportunities, as well as held to the same expectation. These young men are living proof that stereotypes of black youth (in Chicago) are inaccurate and can be suppressive to the growth and exploration of a young black mind. Hamilton, the public relations representative believes that ?it’s not that black kids don’t want better for themselves they just lack the opportunity and resources to do so”. Wanting to succeed and living in an environment, which doesn?t supply effective fundamental resources to do so is a huge part of the issue within the Chicago Public School system. Mitchell, Hamilton, and Brown know that in order to make a true difference, supplying the stepping-stones to such resources are necessary for any form of change to occur. ?As a result of this the idea of Windy City U was born, a daylong event, which provided the necessary resources and information to inner-city youth from multiple perspectives. This event contained paneled discussions from college students ranging from sophomores to seniors as well as provided information sessions from multiple colleges such as Fisk University, Clark Atlanta University, as well as other colleges within the city of Chicago. Along with live performances, paneled discussions from teen entrepreneurs and a poetry caf?. ?This event was more than your traditional ?lets talk about college? event. It encompassed information about college but it also gave information on the alternative to secondary education that isn?t readily provided to the average teen.

After creating this event as well as having an initiative such as Youth 360, Hamilton, Brown, and Mitchell are pleased to move forward as they believe that The Youth 360 Initiative has more to offer to Chicago?s youth. After creating such a successful event and having a substantial turnout with Windy City U, one can only infer the amount of success and change that these three young men are about to help influence in the communities of Chicago. ?