CHICAGO (CBS) — Like a broken record, experts say street violence stems in part from people without purpose. One Chicago woman is trying to change that, by giving unemployed teens a chance to create their own business.
Candice Cunningham’s board meeting features some baby-faced executives. The teens are hoping their T-shirt design business blasts off.
“I wanted to be a fashion designer or a fashion model when I was going to grow up,” Marcus Taylor said.
A short time ago, the 19-year-old struggled to shoot for those stars.
“I wasn’t working at the time, and I didn’t have any job,” he said.
Youth unemployment in Chicago hits the African-American community the hardest. Nearly 89 percent of black men ages 16 to 19 are out of work, compared to 82 percent of white and 71 percent of Hispanic males, but that statistic has improved, thanks to people like Cunningham and her entrepreneurship training program.
Cunningham offers 16 weeks of adult guidance through her organization, The Black Ecosystem.
“We do everything from concept development to product placement, putting the store online. So I show them a little bit about web design, and then we go over marketing,” Cunningham said.
Financials are a concrete part of designing their future.
“I see them learning why they need to be responsible. I see them taking accountability for the decisions that they make,” Cunningham said. “I feel that economic development is going to be very important if we’re going to break the violence. I feel like we also have to break the cycle of poverty.”
“This program can really take you far if you just pay attention, and be good, and stick to your word,” Taylor said.
Another real-life lesson about cost, profit, and revenue is scheduled for June 27-30. That’s when the teens will bring their T-shirts to market at a pop-up shop next to the ShowPlace Icon Theatres in the South Loop.
The teens call their work The Rise Collection. Apparel will be available online as well as at the pop-up store.