The following are remarks by Jonathan Fanton at a press conference hosted by the City of Chicago and the Chicago Housing Authority to announce a new initiative to bring career-focused job training to Chicago’s public housing residents. Fanton is the co-chair of the Partnership for New Communities, a collaboration of business, foundations, universities, the faith community and government to support Chicago's transformation of public housing and provide new economic opportunity for residents.

February 6, 2006

Thank you, Terry and Mayor Daley.

This is an important initiative that challenges all of us to help public housing residents prepare for employment—and to provide meaningful jobs.  

Today, I represent the Partnership for New Communities, which brings MacArthur together with
• other foundations – The Chicago Community Trust;
• universities – IIT; the University of Chicago;
• businesses -- Bank of America; Peoples Gas; ComEd;
• civic and faith leaders – Eden Martin; Cardinal George; 
to support the Plan for Transformation, and the economic and human development it represents.

Mayor Daley’s Plan to replace towers of isolation with neighborhoods of opportunity is the boldest urban initiative anywhere in the country. The Partnership strongly endorses his vision.  Our primary goal is to help strengthen these new neighborhoods, encourage people of diverse means to live there, and generate economic opportunities for lower income residents. 

Workforce development is critical to the Plan's success.  And so the Partnership has made job training and placement a top priority.  To date, we have invested almost $2 million, including a new $500,000 commitment made just last week by the Chicago Community Trust.

The Partnership has assisted the Centers for Working Families in West Haven provide employment counseling to the former residents of Henry Horner Homes. It has supported mentors at Leadership Greater Chicago for residents of Rockwell Gardens. And it has helped the CAEL (The Council for Adult Experiential Learning) coach residents and train staff of social service agencies.

Our members are also meeting this challenge directly by hiring public housing residents. Programs are underway at the University of Chicago, Peoples Gas, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and Bank of America.  The Partnership expects do even more with substantial funds for the kinds of training and jobs described today.

Good jobs are a critical path to self-sufficiency, self-respect, and family stability.  Opportunity Chicago makes it clear that the Plan for Transformation is about more than bricks and mortar.  It is about a better life for people. 

Opportunity Chicago will help us all seize a once in a century opportunity to improve the quality of life for thousands of our fellow citizens.  The Partnership is proud to be part of this effort.

Housing, Chicago, Community Development, Housing