CHICAGO (CBSNewYork/670 The Score Chicago) — The five major Chicago sports franchises are teaming up to tackle violence in the city.
The Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox are donating a total of $1 million in one-time grants to support three programs that address the issue of violence, the teams announced Wednesday morning. The five teams are operating collectively in what they have termed the Chicago Sports Alliance.
The programs receiving grants include Choose 2 Change – a mentoring program aiming to reduce violence among youth in the troubled Englewood neighborhood on the South Side of the city.
Also receiving grants are the Chicago Police Department’s Strategic Decision Support Centers – which are rooms in the police departments of high-violence districts in which police leaders and civilian analysts work in unison to develop crime reduction strategy using technology, data analysis and human intelligence.
The third organization receiving a grant is the University of Chicago’s crime lab, which focuses on investing in efforts that identify and improve outcomes for the most vulnerable Chicagoans.
Bears chairman George McCaskey credited Bulls and White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf for the idea.
“This partnership is not about the teams, it is about the power of coming together as Chicagoans to do all we can to try to make a difference,” McCaskey said in a statement. “The credit for this should go to Jerry Reinsdorf, as it was his idea. We are all doing things already with our own teams, but it was his vision to bring everyone together to collectively have a greater impact. The monetary factor is important of course, but we are also hoping because so many of our great fans and so many young people look up to our players that we can have an impact that way. If we can get through to them in some way, we can send a positive message about making our city better.”
The Chicago Sports Alliance can make a “huge impact,” Chicago Crime Lab executive director Roseanna Ander said.
“We are all deeply saddened every day when we read a new headline about shootings and violence in Chicago,” Reinsdorf said in a statement. “Chicago is our home. This is the greatest city in the world. Collectively, we need to work together to preserve it, and now is the time for us to double our efforts. While we understand that as sports teams we don’t have all of the answers to solving such complicated issues, we do appreciate the incredible position of leadership that we are fortunate to hold. We have a responsibility to give back to our city and to all of our fans who have given us their hearts and cheers. These teams have brought championships to Chicago, but the great people of this city deserve a champion – or an alliance of champions – to stand together against this unacceptable level of community violence.”
The five teams hope to continue the Chicago Sports Alliance effort on an annual basis.
“I hope that we can change the narrative in the community for so many kids in Chicago,” Bulls president Michael Reinsdorf said in a statement. “These kids can no longer dream. Now they have to think ‘How can I get to school safely?’ or ‘Should I take a chance and go to the park to play ball?’ I hope we can change that. I hope we can bring back the opportunity for kids to dream.”