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Late Steve Jobs’ wife puts grant money decisions in youth hands

Former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is a managing partner at Emerson Collective. | Sun-Times file photo

A philanthropic organization founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, charged a group of young people with figuring out exactly how to divvy up $350,000 in grant money to folks focused on making a positive impact on kids’ lives in Chicago.

Emerson Collective, which Powell Jobs heads up, left the task to a “youth advisory council” of six college students from across Chicago.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office, which collaborated on the project, announced the 23 grant recipients on Sunday.

One beneficiary, Bella Cuisine Kids Cooking Club, will receive $25,000 to fund a seven-week program for 120 kids, ages 8 to 17, to meet at their local police stations and work with officers to create meals, learn culinary and leadership skills and ultimately create a “pop-up” restaurant to serve members of the community.

The “Peace Grant” program received nearly 300 grant requests. Winners were based on ingenuity and a demonstrated plan to provide youths a role in making their communities safer and more peaceful.

“Proposals ranged from youth-led and -organized peace demonstrations to music composition, college preparation and storytelling seminars — all of which are designed to promote conflict resolution,” the mayor’s office said.

“We all have a role to play in keeping our communities safe and by investing in community-grown ideas like these, we will involve youth and residents across the city in making this a safer and more peaceful summer for all to enjoy,” Emanuel said in the statement.

Arne Duncan, who led Chicago Public Schools before serving for six years as U.S. Secretary of Education under President Barack Obama, is a managing partner at Emerson Collective.

In the statement, Duncan said the program allows young people to “enact concepts and programs that will benefit their peers, while at the same time contributing to a peaceful summer and teaching them important lessons that can be learned only outside of the classroom.”

All grants awarded will run through the end of the year.

The grant recipients:

• Bella Cuisine Kids Cooking Club, Englewood

• Between Friends, Rogers Park

• Bright Star, Douglas

• BUILD Inc., Austin

• The Community Builders, Douglas

• Coder Space, Hyde Park

• Curie High School, Brighton Park

• Demoiselle 2 Femme NFP, Englewood

• DMI Information Processing Center Inc., Austin

• Ebenezer Community Outreach, Garfield Park

• Free Lunch Academy, Chatham

• Gary Comer Youth Center, Greater Grand Crossing

• Girls Like Me, Douglas/Grand Crossing

• The Gray Matter Experience, Chatham

• Harambee Chicago Foundation, Humboldt Park

• HILA, Austin

• I am Able, North Lawndale

• Just Christ Ministries, Greater Grand Crossing

• Percy Julian High School, Roseland

• St. Agnes of Bohemia, South Lawndale

• UCAN, North Lawndale

• Union League Boys & Girls Club, West Town

• The Voices and Faces Project, Englewood