#ChiStories Podcast: My Block, My Hood, My City

Exposure. That’s the mission of My Block, My Hood, My City and its founder Jahmal Cole. Showing kids the world beyond the end of their corner and the challenges of their daily lives.

Jahmal’s journey began when he was a volunteer at Cook County prison, hearing inmates talk about “my block” and “my hood,” but never “my city.”

As he has said, “they had never been downtown, never been to the lake, never been in an elevator, never called a taxi. Their whole worldview was shaped by the infrastructure of North Lawndale.”

(Photo by Patrick Pyszka)
“When you show somebody better they’ll do better.”

When he asked kids what they wanted to do, they would say rappers and basketball players, so he took them to Gatorade so they can learn about consumer engagement. He took them Facebook. He took them to Google. He took them to meet a chiropractor and get to know chefs. All to expose them to different professions they could choose from so they wouldn’t choose violence, and mentoring them along the way.

Jahmal may have started “My Block, My Hood, My City” a few years ago, but its roots go back to his own childhood marked by taking the Greyhound between Chicago and Texas with his father. He rode through cities, farms, and people outside of his Chicago neighborhood, exposing him to a world neither he nor his friends knew.

Today, Jahmal’s moving that experience forward working with 120 teenagers every month.

To find out more, check out Jahmal’s latest book Exposure Is Key: Solving Violence By Exposing Teens To Opportunities, which was published earlier this year.

(Photo by Patrick Pyszka)

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