Before his public remarks touting the newly announced "Ladders to Opportunity" initiative at Chicago's Hyde Park Academy on Friday, the president had another, more intimate event planned: a private roundtable with 16 students enrolled in an anti-youth-violence program called Becoming a Man, or "B.A.M."
In Obama's hometown, whose reputation for gun violence was recently underscored by 15-year-old majorette Hadiya Pendleton's shooting death, B.A.M offers school-based counseling, mentoring and enrichment to young men deemed "at risk."
One University of Chicago study has found that those risks decrease for the program's participants when it comes to being arrested for violent crime or for weapons crime and vandalism, or ending up in the juvenile-justice system. (Those rates go down by 44 percent, 36 percent and 53 percent respectively for the kids who are enrolled, researchers say.)
Those are the kinds of proven results that the Obama administration will focus on in implementing the Ladders of Opportunity initiative, according to Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett. That set of proposals, unveiled in this week's State of the Union address -- which include a push to raise the minimum wage and make high-quality preschool available to every child, and a plan to create "promise zones" in 20 high-poverty communities -- was inspired in part by the president's experience as a community organizer, Jarrett told The Root.
Source: The Root | Jenée Desmond-Harris