Above, from left to right, Youth Peace Center Executive Director Wendy Jones, Youth Peace Center Director of Operations Rogers Jones, Secretary Arne Duncan, and President Obama.

President Obama joined Emerson Collective Managing Partner and former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan with young men from the Chicago CRED program located in the Roseland/Pullman neighborhood in South Side Chicago.

After a successful pilot last summer and fall, CRED welcomed its second cohort of young men this month. The program aims to provide job skills, employment opportunities, and positive connections for at-risk young adults, thereby creating meaningful experiences away from the shocking levels of gun violence Chicago experiences daily.

From left to right, Youth Peace Center Executive Director Wendy Jones, Youth Peace Center Director of Operations Rogers Jones, Secretary Arne Duncan, and President Obama.

President Obama, who served early in his career as a community organizer in the Roseland/Pullman neighborhood and established the Pullman National Historic Landmark District in February 2015, listened to the young men’s stories and spoke about some of his own challenges growing up. He shared his optimism surrounding the men's potential to positively contribute to their communities and support their families as a result of the services provided by CRED - services that the men say are already having real impact on their lives.

The President also asked the group for their first-hand advice on reducing gun violence in Chicago. Several explained that they aspired to help reduce gang violence in their communities.

The meeting is the first in a series of ongoing conversations and efforts by the President and Mrs. Obama to explore partnerships with the private sector, non-profit organizations, NGOs, and other government entities that are committed to tackling violence, poverty, and unemployment in communities around the country. The Obamas say they look forward to working with organizations similar to CRED. Their eponymous foundation and the My Brother's Keeper initiative are both already committed to bringing much-needed opportunity expansion to Chicago neighborhoods.

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