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CHICAGO (CBS) – Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to give new graduates of the City Colleges of Chicago a better shot at a job.
Emanuel outlined his plan Saturday when delivering the commencement address at the ceremonies for all seven City Colleges. Although the audience was new graduates and their families, he was clearly pitching them as potential employees to Chicago businesses.
“You hire one of our community college kids and we’ll pay the stipend for the first four weeks,” he said, prompting the graduates to jump to their feet and cheer.
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The mayor said it’s an affirmation of the students and their education.
“They’re hard working,” Emanuel said. “They’re skill-ready. They’re committed. They’ve shown what it takes to win a job, to win that future.”
Emanuel spoke minutes after an address by Kennedy-King College valedictorian Meosha Thomas, an Iraq war veteran and single mother of two, who will continue pursuing her bachelor’s degree in education this fall at National-Louis University.
“We believed that we could be better than what we once were,” she said, admitting that she had doubts about her ability to finish college when she entered Kennedy-King. “We stayed the course and we followed it to the end. However, the end is just the beginning.”
The program will be known as “College to Careers.”
The first business to benefit from it is Allscripts. The mayor’s office said, in a press release, that the health management firm is hiring 40 new City Colleges graduates. The city will pay them for six months, using surplus TIF money.
The city and the City Colleges system are splitting the cost of the program.
The city colleges graduated nearly 3,300 associate degrees this year, an increase of 800 from a year ago and the largest class in more than 10 years.