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Chicago 2017 Initiative

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Words by Scot Tatelman

Growing up, when I thought of Chicago, it was immediately Da Bears, Da Bulls and Brad Morris. Da Brad. These days, it's not so humorous or innocent. Thoughts and impressions of Chicago brings you to gun violence, gang violence...and barely making that list - the curse breaking Cubs.

The conversation surrounding a city so rich with soul and history has recently shifted. Everything in the news about Chicago - specifically its inner cities - is incredibly negative. A narrative has been built that is characterizing its most underfunded, embattled communities in a light that gets very little light. It's pure darkness.

I got consumed by this and started reading and watching everything related to the never before seen violence happening on the streets of Chicago. With every story and profile piece, my thoughts immediately went to the kids of these neighborhoods. What are they hearing? What is this international conversation draped in negativity telling them about their status in the world, hope for the future and our collective belief in them?

The answer was pretty clear to me...what we were telling these kids was that much like the news' portrayal of their communities as hopeless, violent and in disarray, they would start internalizing that as "I'm hopeless. I'm violent. I'm in disarray." So I did the only thing that I knew I could to educate myself and devise a plan to do something...not even sure what that something would be. I connected with as many people on the ground or from Chicago as I could.

I talked to friends, educators, nonprofit directors, and government officials so that our strategy would go beyond just donating a ton of backpacks, but look to shift the negative narrative to support and show belief in these kids. I virtually engulfed myself in the landscape so that I wasn't some New York based guy flying in and flying out, pretending to be a hero. I obsessed over this fear and made sure to dot all my i's and cross the t's before going into action. And then I went to Chicago....and incredibly, Brad Morris met me there to shoot a short film.

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Scot Tatelman

Scot is State’s Co-Founder and ‘Give-Back Guy.’ Scot defines the term ‘social entrepreneur’ and has made it his life’s work to balance profitable business ventures with making the world a better place. Scot has worked to evolve their charitable model through STATE’s innovative giving initiatives and #WhatDoWeTellTheKids platform.

View all stories by Scot here.
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