Jahkil Jackson, 9, Gives “Blessing Bags” With Essentials to Homeless

9 Year-Old Philanthropist Jahkil Jackson (photo via usatoday.com)

CHICAGO — At 9 years old, Jahkil Jackson is helping his community take care of those in need.  It all started the day his aunt took him to feed the homeless. Jackson was saddened when he saw how the homeless lived.  “They didn’t have items to start or end their day,” say Jackson.

So he and his mother took action, creating the non-profit, iAMNaeem.

Jackson puts together “Blessing Bags” which he hands out to the homeless community.  The bags are filled with toothbrushes, socks, soap, deodorant — everyday items a person needs.

He disburses the bags from the back of his godfather’s pickup truck. He’s on the ground, meeting the homeless community face-to-face while handing out bags. Jackson’s mother says he always takes charge during these trips, proving to be a strong leader at such a young age.

“In a perfect world, I would buy every homeless person a house,” Jackson says. “But since I can’t do that, I will try to help as much as I can.”

Since starting his non-profit, he’s distributed almost 2,000 Blessing Bags. Jackson’s goal for the end of 2017 is to distribute 5,000 bags.

To read more: Boy saw how homeless lived and did something about it

Chicago Teens Will Now Have Free Admission to Art Institute Of Chicago | WBEZ

Whitney Young Magnet High School senior Rosario Barrera and Kenwood Academy High School Junior Walela Greenlee, both members of the museum’s Teen Council, in the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing (photo via wbez.org)

article by Lakeidra Chavis via wbez.org

A University of Chicago alumnus and his wife have made it possible for some Chicago teens to visit the Art Institute of Chicago for free for at least the next 25 years. Glenn and Claire Swogger are a philanthropic couple from Kansas who gave the undisclosed gift to the museum.“We try to find programs that will help people have educational and cultural experiences that will be useful to them and good for society,” Glenn said.

Currently, children under 14 years old get free admission into the museum. But starting this week, the Swogger’s foundation will expand that to any Chicagoan under 18 years old. “There’s still the problem of (the teenagers) getting there, they might not have enough money jiggling in their pockets for them to come routinely to the Art Institute,” Glenn Swogger said.  He added the museum offers more than just art, including a variety of programs open to youths.“We just wanted to make it a little easier for young people to take advantage of that,” he said.

Art Institute spokeswoman Amanda Hicks said the donation was in the works for about a year, and the museum hopes it will help boost attendance from Chicago’s youth. Illinois art seekers who are over 18 years old can still visit the museum for free every Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m.

Source: Chicago Teens Will Now Have Free Access To The Art Institute Of Chicago | WBEZ

Laurence Fishburne and Larenz Tate Team for 10-Part Podcast Series ‘Bronzeville’

Laurence Fishburne (L), Larenz Tate

Laurence Fishburne (L), Lorenz Tate (photo via eurweb.com)

article via eurweb.com

Laurence Fishburne and Larenz Tate have joined forces for a new 10-part podcast called “Bronzeville,” which is set to begin streaming in January, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Written by Josh Olsen, an original screenplay Oscar nominee for 2005’s “A History of Violence,” the series is set in the African-American Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago and follows the lives of players who ruled the numbers games, the illegal lottery that swept through the black community in the 1940s before it was taken over by the mafia.

Tika SumpterLance ReddickBrittany Snow and Mitch Pileggi are also among the voice cast.

Fishburne’s Cinema Gypsy Productions and Tate’s TateMen Entertainment have partnered with digital audio ad sales company Audio HQ on the project, which is billed as an audio-drama.

Fishburne, Tate and Kc Wayland are directing Bronzeville, with Wayland also serving as producer.

To read more, go to: http://www.eurweb.com/2016/10/laurence-fishburne-larenz-tate-team-podcast-series-bronzeville/

Jack and Jill of America’s Youth Turn Loose Change into $35,000 Donation to Support Barack Obama Presidential Library 

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Jack and Jill of America Youth Prior To Presenting $35,000 Donation to the Obama Foundation (Photo courtesy of Jack and Jill of America)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

 Jack and Jill of America, Inc.’s youngest members collected pennies, nickels and dimes as part of their Loose Change Program that resulted in a $35,000 donation to the Obama Foundation, in support of Chicago’s Barack Obama Presidential Library. Mothers and families of Jack and Jill of America in Chicago came together to present the foundation with the donation in a private celebration.

“The Mid Western Region was incredibly honored to present this donation that not only honors the first African-American US President, Barack Obama, but makes an impact in a community that needs positive reinforcements and contributions,” says Mid-Western Regional Director Nadine Gibson. “As advocates for childhood literacy, Jack and Jill understands the important role public libraries play in communities.”

The Loose Change program was initiated as a giving opportunity for our youth ages two through 12, to make a significant impact in underserved communities.  The Mid-Western Region received the donation collected in 2015 and selected the Barack Foundation as the recipient of choice. 

“We are excited about this giving opportunity.  Now, each time we visit the Library we will know that Jack and Jill helped to make a positive contribution to its development and commitment to the community,” says Mid-Western Regional Teen President, Kellen Love.

For more information on how you can make a donation, or to find out more about Jack and Jill of America and its chapters, visit jackandjillinc.org.

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Jerald Gary, 30, Buys Historic Regal Theater in Chicago to Restore and Use with Art Non-Profits

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Jerald Gary (Photo credit: Melanie L. Brown for Steed Media Service)

article by Melanie L. Brown via rollingout.com

Rolling out interviewed Jerald Gary, the new owner of the New Regal Theater in Chicago. The 30-year-old talked about his memories of the Regal and how he came to acquire this historic building on the South Side.

Who is Jerald Gary?

I am a private equity investor. I bought the Regal Theater in 2014 to provide access to the performing arts for the community. I created the Chicago Regal Foundation to use the theater as a cultural asset that the community can leverage through various arts nonprofits. My day to day is figuring out how to render capital of the community more active and productive.

What is some history that you’ve heard about the Regal?

When I was growing up, the Regal was really in its prime. It reopened in 1987. It revived in 85′. I think it took them two years to do renovation, reopened it in 1987, and got it a landmark right there in ’92. Matter of fact, Mayor Harold Washington facilitated some money because doing the political thing for office in return was bringing dollars into the community. I got a picture of Ed Gardner and Harold Washington right there in the lobby. Harold was giving Ed a million-dollar check for the restoration. I saw a flyer the other day, it was Tupac and Biggie’s first time in Chicago on the Regal Theater stage. They were introducing a new [act], 17-year-old Kanye West, at the bottom of the flyer. Crucial Conflict was at the show, Da Brat was at the show, Common was at the show and a couple of other artists, at one show. That was the type of stuff that was going on. I [saw] Common and told him I was about to buy the Regal Theater and he stated how he thought Beyoncé and Jay were going to buy it. There was no Regal Theater from the mid ’70s until Avalon Theater was restored and they did the New Regal in 1987.

Who were some of the people that got their start with plays here?

Tyler Perry got his start at the Regal Theater. I was too young to go to his stuff but I remember his bus being in the parking lot. He was sleeping in his bus. It was a lot of church plays here.

Have you thought about changing the name from the New Regal Theater?

Yes, so we are going to change the name to Avalon Regal Theater because the building we’re in is the Avalon, which was from 1927 up until the mid ’70s. It was the Operation Regal Theater in Bronzeville so at the time so we had a lot of Irish German immigrants who lived here who came here for shows. Somebody came to me and said ” Wait right here.” The person came back and gave me a flyer from 1929 of a silent movie/music dance with the orchestra pit. They would do that type of stuff here until like the ’60s. It was mostly a movie house before they had multiplexes, this was the spot to come and see movies. A lot of white people come to me and say they use to come to Avalon and use to watch cartoons on Saturday. That’s the heritage as well, we want to preserve. The whole legacy of the Avalon Regal Theater (ART) is what we’re trying to get trending, the rich heritage of the South Side. The concept we have is we really feel this could be a Beale Street like in Memphis, [Tennessee]. They got like 20 or 30 music joints like on one strip, [along with] restaurants and bars. You can’t just have a venue and people can’t go get dinner before the show, a cocktail after the show. What you gonna get? Are you going to get robbed after the show? That’s what’s going to happen here now. Why can’t we have this [be] Beale Street? I feel like the South Side is like the Africa of the city. I think we have the opportunity to do crazy stuff like they did in Dubai. It’s cheap to do. We bought the Regal for $100,000. When I say “we” I mean the companies I chair. We bought it from the FDIC. It took us about nine months to negotiate because it’s a landmark. We had to get a blessing from a commissioner. We got about $7 million dollars worth of work to do. Three million dollars of that is on the facade. We probably are going to do a Kickstarter campaign.

When do you plan on opening?

We hope to be running by 2017.

How can people get more information about the Regal?

They can go to www.regaltheater.org and it has a lot of information about the project and the Regal itself.

To read full article, go to: http://rollingout.com/2016/06/03/new-regal-theater-868707/

Urban Prep Academy in Chicago Celebrates 100 Percent College Acceptance Rate for 7th Year in a Row

Urban Prep Academy 2016 Graduates (photo via nbcchicago screenshot)

Urban Prep Academy 2016 Graduates (photo via nbcchicago screenshot)

article by Katie Kim via nbcchicago.com

The families of Urban Prep Academy‘s 2016 graduating class shared a proud moment at the school’s commencement on Saturday. But this ceremony had a special meaning, as school administrators say all 252 graduating seniors have been accepted into a four-year college or university.

“I’m so excited. I’m going to get emotional,” said proud mom Ebony Muhammad.

The graduating seniors are all African-American males from the charter school’s Englewood, West, and Bronzeville campuses. The class of 2016 is carrying on a tradition, as every single Urban Prep graduate since 2010 has been accepted into four-year colleges and universities.

“It’s like a dream come true. I’ve been waiting on this a long time,” one student said.

Graduating senior Rudolph Long said he’s the first in his family to not only graduate high school, but to go on to college. And the young man from Auburn Gresham is doing so on a full-ride scholarship.  “I don’t think it’ll ever sink in. It hasn’t, but it just means that I’m changing the narrative for people not only from my family, but for African-Americans as a whole,” Long said.

Juwaun Cooper-Muhammad is going to Georgetown University in the fall.  “Urban Prep was the best thing that ever happened to me, along with my mother,” Cooper-Muhammad said. “We’re breaking barriers and this is a moment that I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.”

No one is more proud of Juwaun than his mother.  “I was a teen mom and it makes me know that we can jump over these hurdles,” Ebony Muhammad said, choking back tears. “These obstacles that were in our way, we were able to do it.”

To add to the joy of the celebration, the seniors were awarded more than $11 million combined in scholarships to help pay for their tuition.

And these students say that this milestone is just the beginning.

“I just want to give back to whole city really, for making me who I am today,” Long added.

Source: Chicago High School Celebrates 100 Percent College Acceptance Rate | NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/Chicago-High-School-Celebrates-100-Percent-College-Acceptance-Rate-381905451.html#ixzz4Bf0oWiuc

Chicago Police Escort Girls Without Fathers to ‘Daddy Daughter Dance’

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article via clutchmagonline.com

The second annual “Daddy Daughter Dance” was held in Chicago over the weekend, and the event sponsored by the Chicago Police Department proved to be a success.

The event, which was held at the South Shore Cultural Center, matched up Chicago police officers with girls who don’t have fathers in their lives. Also in attendance were officers and their own daughters.

“After last year’s event, we had several officers and the young ladies that they escorted, they kept up with one another and it really bridged a gap,” said Sgt. Kimberly Woods. “It let the girls know that officers are just people too and we dance, and we dance funny like your dads do.”

The Chicago Police Department and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives planned the dance to encourage healthy relationships between daughters and their fathers.