"Knowledge is Power"








...QUICK STUDY - To go directly to the text where British Petroleum [BP) Chairman Bob Malone stated his company's 6.2 million dollar commitment to fund Chicago Urban League's projectNEXT scroll to highlighted area.




Chicago Urban League President and CEO Cheryle Jackson Charts Bold, New Course for Next-Generation Civil Rights
Launches projectNEXT, a sweeping economic development program with major
partners: BP, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University And
the Illinois Finance Authority

CHICAGO, Feb. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today at the Chicago Urban
League's 2007 Annual Business Luncheon, President and CEO Cheryle Jackson
unveiled her economic empowerment vision for the agency, which will now
focus on empowering and inspiring Chicago's African-American workforce and
business community through four growth engines collectively called
projectNEXT: entrepreneurship, workforce diversity, commercial real estate
development, education and advocacy.

Jackson made history in October 2006, becoming the first woman to lead
the civil rights organization in its 90-year history. "The Chicago Urban
League is getting out of the social service business and will focus
exclusively on economic development," said Jackson. "There should be at
least one organization dedicated to creating the kind of wealth where no
social services of any kind are needed. We can't just manage the problem.
We must manage ourselves out of the problem. Building wealth that is shared
and sustainable is the way forward. Moving forward, we will lead with an
economic agenda to drive social change."

After conducting an intensive analysis of the agency's current programs
and services along with a scan of local and national economic and workforce
trends and resources, the League developed projectNEXT, the agency's new
economic development platform. projectNEXT entails the League building new
programs and business, academic and community partnerships to drive:


1. Entrepreneurship -- to strengthen, grow and expand the number of
African-American owned businesses. Special projects and plans in
development include creation of a center to provide training and
counseling to businesses, access to capital and new business


2. Workforce Diversity -- to raise African-American employment and income
levels in the skilled, retail management and executive management
workforce. Outreach efforts under development include recruiting and
training minorities for higher-paying manufacturing and construction
jobs; providing valuable management coaching and training, walk-in
employment and outplacement services; and hosting an online job/resume
databank; and presenting college, trade and professional school career
fairs for African-American students.


3. Commercial Real Estate Development -- to promote real estate
development, increase the supply of goods and services in African-
American communities, and help to ensure that African Americans are not
just consumers but owners of the redevelopment of their communities.
Plans include outreach to bridge the gap between minority professional
service firms and retail and commercial developers, investors and other
real estate professionals, including hosting convention and trade


4. Education and Advocacy -- to broaden the base of educated, skilled and
engaged African-American youth and serve as the voice and thought
leader for economic development issues in the African-American
community by being a stronger and more visible advocate. Plans include
establishing partnerships to develop research studies that address
topics such as intergenerational wealth trends -- what happens to
minority-owned firms when their owners step down -- and diversity in
professional services; and conducting a series of forums that examine
the impact of political, educational and social issues of importance to
African Americans.

Six New Groundbreaking Alliances
Consistent with its new focus and partnership model, the Chicago Urban
League has established key alliances with BP (NYSE: BP), the Kellogg School
of Management at Northwestern University and the Illinois Finance Authority

The League is also leading two major initiatives to advance workforce
diversity. The first is an Organized Labor Task Force to increase minority
access to trade unions. The second is a partnership with the Chicago
Manufacturing Renaissance Council, a federation of business, labor,
government, education and community-based organizations working to promote
a highly skilled manufacturing workforce. In the coming year, the League
will also partner with Ariel Mutual Funds on an in-depth study pertaining
to diversity in the professional services arena. The League will also
investigate intergenerational wealth in the African-American community."
"The Chicago Urban League Board of Directors enthusiastically and
unanimously supports projectNEXT," says Loop Capital chairman James

BP Foundation Inc. and BP America Inc. ( have
committed more than $6.2 million over three years to programs that work
across all four areas of the League's strategic vision. BP is collaborating
with Chicago Urban League to create a series of pilot economic development
programs focused on diversity in employment, suppliers, business market
relationships, education and research.

"Building better, stronger communities in the places we operate, such
as Chicago and Northwest Indiana is important to BP and to the men and
women who work for us," said BP America Chairman and President Bob Malone.
"The Chicago Urban League is designing innovative, sustainable economic
development programs that we believe will make a real difference in Chicago
and we are proud to be part of them."

With investment from BP Foundation, Chicago Urban League will launch an
Entrepreneurship Center with the Kellogg School of Management at
Northwestern University ( As the
academic partner for the Entrepreneurship Center, Kellogg will help staff
the Center with graduate students and faculty. Specifically, they will
design the training and coaching models to counsel minority-owned
businesses in marketing their products and services, in securing contracts
with private sector companies and governmental agencies and in financing
their businesses. One of the key priorities at the Entrepreneurship Center
will be developing strategies for minority-owned businesses to pursue and
secure venture capital.

"A relationship with the Chicago Urban League is long overdue, and I
applaud Cheryle for taking the initiative to reach out to Kellogg," said
Steven Rogers, The Gund Family Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship
and the Director of the Larry and Carol Levy Entrepreneur Institute. "It is
imperative that we all do everything possible to assist in the development
of African-American entrepreneurs because they do good for others when they
do well for themselves. They create jobs for other African-Americans. And
people with jobs are self-sufficient. And self-sufficient people create
healthier communities."

Through projectNEXT, both BP Foundation and the Illinois Finance
Authority (IFA) are earmarking approximately $1 million each to invest in a
venture capital fund. The IFA is a self-financed state authority
principally engaged in issuing taxable and tax-exempt bonds, making loans
and investing capital for businesses, non-profit corporations, agriculture
and local government units across the state. Its contribution to the fund
will be used to pilot a flexible business loan program for historically
underrepresented minorities in targeted underserved communities, which will
serve as a basis for a broader statewide initiative. Additionally, Kellogg
will conduct research studies on economic development issues like the value
of equity investment in African-American businesses and the economic impact
of the 2016 Olympics on the African-American community.

"The IFA helps finance initiatives throughout Illinois that stimulate
the economy, create jobs and make a better Illinois for all," said Jill
Rendleman, Interim Executive Director of the Illinois Financing Authority.
"We are pleased to participate in the financing component of projectNext.
It is an innovative approach that takes into account the full spectrum of
tools required for sustainable economic development."

Jackson remarked, "We're very proud of these partnerships. They are
unique, wide-ranging and forward-looking, and serve as a model that could
be emulated nationally. Our partners are committed and well-regarded
leaders who have stepped forward to help us ensure that businesses in
Chicago's African- American and minority communities have access to the
building blocks that make real growth possible. We are in discussion with
several private, public and nonprofit organizations and are inviting others
to invest in projectNEXT and help create the kind of wealth that can lift
up and transform whole neighborhoods and entire communities -- the kind of
wealth that leads to decent paying jobs and money in the pocket and savings
in the bank and returns to investors and hope for the future."

About the Chicago Urban League
Established in 1916 by an interracial group of community leaders, the
Chicago Urban League ( began as a
resettlement organization assisting African-American migrants arriving in
Chicago from the rural South. Today the civil rights organization empowers
African-Americans by providing a unique and broad range of powerful
resources and tools focused on economic development. Leveraging strong and
growing relationships with the business community and government, the
League develops programs and partnerships and does advocacy to address the
need for employment, entrepreneurship, affordable commercial real estate
and a quality education. The Chicago Urban League is an affiliate of the
National Urban League (, the nation's oldest and largest
community-based movement devoted to empowering African-Americans to enter
the economic and social mainstream.

SOURCE Chicago Urban League