It’s Monday morning.
With a high of 80 degrees expected, summer is finally here. 12-year-old Malcom Johnson, tired of spending winter days indoors, pulls out his bike and gathers with friends near 14th and Lewis streets. Chatting and soaking up the sun, they aren’t doing anything wrong but they aren’t doing anything productive either.
With nothing else to do, more boys on bikes join the mainly African-American and Latino crowd. However, their noise will quickly become too much for Lois Garcia, an elderly North Chicago resident who has lived in the corner house for almost three decades.
It’s a common scenario that plays out in every town, every summer: kids complain they're bored and in a never-ending cycle, adults complain about bored kids.
For the first time in North Chicago, President Obama's My Brother’s Keeper initiative will launch programs to benefit boys like Johnson and his friends. Targeting boys of color, the Annie E. Casey Foundation will sponsor three reading sites across the city.
According to a White House report, "data shows that boys and young men of color, regardless of socio-economic background, are disproportionately at risk throughout the journey from their youngest years to college and career. For instance large disparities remain in reading proficiency, with 86 percent of black boys and 82 percent of Hispanic boys reading below proficiency levels by the fourth grade..."
The My Brother's Keeper reading program is designed by Harvard University professor, Gary Knight. The curriculum focuses on children who test up to one year behind their grade level.
"This is perhaps one of the most important programs we've organized in the City of North Chicago," says Mayor Leon Rockingham, Jr. "Our future depends on our ability to educate the boys in this city. This program will have a significant impact without asking for more money from taxpayers."
My Brother's Keeper reading sites will be located at the following locations:
North Chicago Community Health Center 2215 14th Street
Yeager Elementary School 1811 Morrow Avenue
Lake County Boys and Girls Club 33 Boys and Girls Way
For more information, residents may contact Kim Dawson-Brooks at 847-596-8600.