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My Block, My Hood, My City (M3) is a non-profit organization located in Chicago that mentors underprivileged youth. Beginning July 9, 2021, and ending August 28, they will be organizing summer tours. Teens from both Little Village and North Lawndale will be sharing stories of what goes on in their neighborhood from their point of view, not what the media portrays.
Founded in October 2013 by 37-year-old Jahmal Cole, an outspoken organizer, and author known as an advocate for social justice, assisting youth from low-income neighborhoods with exploring other areas of the city. M3 also helped neighbors and small businesses survive during the pandemic.
Nathaniel Viets-VanLear, a senior program manager at My Block My Hood My City, stated that the organization would bring people from outside the neighborhood and have the youth take them through their neighborhood, explaining the history, culture, and any other wonders located in the communities.
The tours in North Lawndale have been going on for four years. This will be the first one in Little Village.
Hoping to inspire and empower the youth in both neighborhoods, Viets-VanLear says they are trying to give them a good reason to do something positive in their community this summer. Approximately 30 youth will participate in the program and will be paid $15 an hour.
The youth said that the training is helping them to build their confidence and learn the art of speaking publicly, which could help them in the classroom and with future jobs.
Some are excited, and some are nervous about leading the tours. Miguel Gadea said, “It is going to be hard,” but he is ready for the challenge.
Ashanti Marshall, a resident of North Lawndale, stated, “People might see one thing, but it can actually be something else.” Gadea, who lives in Little Village, also stated that his neighborhood is not how it is portrayed.
It’s not always about violence in our community. There’s ups and downs but it’s mostly beautiful.
Written by Brenda Robinson
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
ABC7-Chicago: My Block My Hood My City Youth-led Summer Tours Start Next Week In North Lawndale, Little Village; by Will Jones
BlockClubChicago: Jahmal Cole, My Block, My Hood, My City Founder, Hopes To Take Bobby Rush’s Seat In Congress; by Ariel Parrella-Aureli
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of j-No’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Bob Simpson’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License