First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama was in town yesterday and it wasn’t just to attend the Beyonce concert at the United Center Wednesday night. While First Lady Michelle Obama was in town, she also spent part of the day on Thursday to stop by Columbia College, to highlight the work and accomplishments of the nonprofit organization Urban Alliance Chicago, meeting with 60 high school students who participated in the program the past year. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his wife, Chicago’s First Lady Amy Rule, joined First Lady Michelle Obama at Columbia College.
First Lady Michelle Obama told the 60 high school students that “Programs like these are the answer in so many ways to stemming the tide of violence for kids in so many communities, giving them an opportunity to envision a world outside of gang banging and hanging on the streets, dropping out.”
The First Lady also singled out Chicago’s First Lady, Amy Rule, who is Board Co-Chair for the Urban Alliance Chicago. First Lady Michelle Obama said that “I commend my dear friend Amy Rule for her strong support of this initiative from the very beginning.” First Lady Obama added that “She’s always been invested. And as First Lady of this city and as a mother, as a professional, as a smart, sharp woman, she of all people knows the value of this kind of investment in our young people. And I’m so proud of her for taking this on.”
Michelle Obama answered a question from one of the students, Briana Miller. “I’m an intern at Burson-Marsteller PR Firm, and I will be attending Trinity College in Harper Connecticut come next month.” Briana Miller asked First Lady Michelle Obama “what words of wisdom might you have for a young lady who is dedicated to success but sometimes not quite sure of herself?”
“You want to go in owning your experiences and your background. That’s one of the reasons why, as First Lady, I talk about my background — because I’m proud of it. Growing up on the South Side; not having a lot of resources; struggling through some of the best schools; being one of a few black women in the room at a board room, at a table — that has prepared me for this,” said First Lady Michelle Obama who encouraged her to embrace your background. “You do not turn your back on what got you here, okay?”
Urban Alliance is an organization that empowers youth to work and succeed by providing them with professional experiences and mentorship. Urban Alliance is the only year long employment program for under-resourced high school seniors in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, MD, and Chicago, IL. The goal is to give youth access to professional growth and experiences. The program prepares students for a life of work and self-sufficiency through paid internships, formal training, and mentorship.
Urban Alliance Chicago, a year-long career education and employment program for underserved high school seniors which enriches students’ lives through paid internships, formal training, and mentoring.
“The Urban Alliance is making a tremendous impact on the lives of Chicago youth by providing them with real work experience that they can build upon for a successful future,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “I am pleased to see the accomplishments that these extraordinary high school seniors have made through this initiative and look forward to the Urban Alliance’s continued success through their investment and commitment to Chicago children.”
First Lady Rule began working with the Urban Alliance and the City in 2011 to bring the successful organization and their targeted strategies to Chicago.
Urban Alliance Interns are selected after a rigorous application process. During the school year, each Urban Alliance Intern works part time with a job partner in the public or private sector. On Fridays, they attend life skills and job readiness workshops. During the summer following their senior year, Urban Alliance Interns work full time Monday through Thursday. They attend professional development workshops on Fridays. After finishing the program, Alumni have access to Urban Alliance Alumni Services.
Urban Alliance Interns are paid for their work and can earn over $6,000 over the course of their senior year.
Over the course of the year, Urban Alliance students participate in over 750 hours of work and professional development training. In its first year in Chicago, Urban Alliance served 71 students from six Chicago Public High Schools in south and southwest neighborhoods with a 100% high school graduation rate and over 95% of students college bound this fall.
Urban Alliance was founded in Washington DC in 1996 and over its 17-year history, it has worked with more than 15,000 low-income D.C., Chicago and Baltimore youth through a combination of paid internships and curriculum outreach and plans to expand to Northern Virginia this fall. In Chicago, Urban Alliance plans to double its reach and serve 150 students from 13 Chicago Public Schools this fall.
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John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African American studies, published by The Elevator Group, Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books. John has volunteered for many political campaigns. John is an unpaid volunteer and social media advisor at Robin Kelly for Congress.