Youth employment has been a hot-button topic for lawmakers in the Chicago area, with dismal job figures in January inspiring a number of industry leaders to search for ways they can help raise numbers among younger citizens. Some companies have turned their focus to creating training opportunities for the city's youth while others have begun hiring these individuals, but several have stepped up to fight against this citywide issue.

Rappers team up to create thousands of opportunities
The Chicago Urban League recently partnered with rappers Common and Rhymefest to not only spread awareness for the region's unemployed youth, but also create tangible, long-lasting jobs for these individuals. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the partnership hopes to create 4,000 jobs by 2017, filling 1,000 positions per year over the next four years. Other agencies that have signed on to help the Chicago Youth Job Collaborative include Kanye West's charity Donda's House, Alternative Schools Network, Chicago Jobs Council and Centers for New Horizons. 

The Chicago Youth Job Collaborative was announced at the Museum of Contemporary Art, where several of the city's most influential business executives met to discuss how they can help spark job creation within the younger demographic. Andrea Zopp, the CEO and president of the Chicago Urban League, explained that while companies have been successful in creating temporary positions in the past, they must now focus on generating long-term jobs for the city's youth.

"Today we issue a call to action to the public, private and nonprofit sectors to join this effort to make year-round investments in our youth," Zopp said, as quoted by the Atlanta Black Star. " … Year-round job opportunities and support service will significantly improve the well-being of our youth and strengthen our city."

This summer, the initiative will hold the AAHH! Fest to help spread awareness among local businesses and provide a platform on which the youth can showcase their own musical skills. 

Firms pledge funds to spark youth involvement
Several other firms have helped to spark job growth in the city, providing both funds and opportunities for the city's youth. According to The Associated Press, the Citi Foundation recently donated $50 million to help combat unemployment among younger U.S. citizens across 10 metropolitan cities, including Chicago. The funds will be directed toward local nonprofit organizations, and experts predict they will help more than 100,000 people in the U.S. find employment within the first wave alone. 

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