Community Renewal

Antonio Jones, left, and Dwayne Williams dump out a garbage can as they help renovate a house Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. About 28 young men are participating in a pilot program launched by the Emerson Collective meant to help them learn job skills and find future employment while participating community renewal in many Chicago neighborhoods.  (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune)

Antonio Jones, left, and Dwayne Williams dump out a garbage can as they help renovate a house Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. About 28 young men are participating in a pilot program launched by the Emerson Collective meant to help them learn job skills and find future employment while participating community renewal in many Chicago neighborhoods.  (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune)

David Johnson throws a bag of debris out the window of a house he is helping to renovate Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. About 28 young men are participating in a pilot program launched by the Emerson Collective meant to help them learn job skills and find future employment while participating community renewal in many Chicago neighborhoods.  (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune) 

David Johnson throws a bag of debris out the window of a house he is helping to renovate Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. About 28 young men are participating in a pilot program launched by the Emerson Collective meant to help them learn job skills and find future employment while participating community renewal in many Chicago neighborhoods.  (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune) 

Antonio Jones tosses a piece of wood as he and others deconstruct a house Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. About 28 young men are participating in a pilot program launched by the Emerson Collective meant to help them learn job skills and find future employment while participating community renewal in many Chicago neighborhoods.  (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune) 

Antonio Jones tosses a piece of wood as he and others deconstruct a house Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. About 28 young men are participating in a pilot program launched by the Emerson Collective meant to help them learn job skills and find future employment while participating community renewal in many Chicago neighborhoods.  (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune) 

Kaysean Thomas, left, and Jamon Lynch carry drywall from a house they are renovating Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. About 28 young men are participating in a pilot program launched by the Emerson Collective meant to help them learn job skills and find future employment while participating community renewal in many Chicago neighborhoods.  (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune) 

Kaysean Thomas, left, and Jamon Lynch carry drywall from a house they are renovating Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. About 28 young men are participating in a pilot program launched by the Emerson Collective meant to help them learn job skills and find future employment while participating community renewal in many Chicago neighborhoods.  (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune) 

17-year-old Reggie Gardner laughs as he preapres to do some clean up work Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. About 28 young men are participating in a pilot program launched by the Emerson Collective meant to help them learn job skills and find future employment while participating community renewal in many Chicago neighborhoods.  (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune) 

17-year-old Reggie Gardner laughs as he preapres to do some clean up work Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. About 28 young men are participating in a pilot program launched by the Emerson Collective meant to help them learn job skills and find future employment while participating community renewal in many Chicago neighborhoods.  (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune) 

Kaysean Thomas, left, and Dwayne Williams pick up debris in the yard of a house they are renovating Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. About 28 young men are participating in a pilot program launched by the Emerson Collective meant to help them learn job skills and find future employment while participating community renewal in many Chicago neighborhoods.  (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune) 

Kaysean Thomas, left, and Dwayne Williams pick up debris in the yard of a house they are renovating Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. About 28 young men are participating in a pilot program launched by the Emerson Collective meant to help them learn job skills and find future employment while participating community renewal in many Chicago neighborhoods.  (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune) 

Former U.S. Secretary of Education and Chicago Public Schools chief Arne Duncan, left, tours a house under renovation with contractor Mike Wilson, right, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. About 28 young men are participating in a pilot program launched by the Emerson Collective, where Duncan is a managing partner, meant to help them learn job skills and find future employment while participating community renewal in many Chicago neighborhoods.  (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune) 

Former U.S. Secretary of Education and Chicago Public Schools chief Arne Duncan, left, tours a house under renovation with contractor Mike Wilson, right, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. About 28 young men are participating in a pilot program launched by the Emerson Collective, where Duncan is a managing partner, meant to help them learn job skills and find future employment while participating community renewal in many Chicago neighborhoods.  (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune) 

Renovated houses are finished Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. About 28 young men are participating in a pilot program launched by the Emerson Collective meant to help them learn job skills and find future employment while participating community renewal in many Chicago neighborhoods. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune) 

Renovated houses are finished Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. About 28 young men are participating in a pilot program launched by the Emerson Collective meant to help them learn job skills and find future employment while participating community renewal in many Chicago neighborhoods. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune) 

Brendan Taylor dances as his coworkers, clockwise from top left, David Johnson, Dimitri Chavez, Vincent Glover, Kyline Puritt and Antonio Barr laugh at him as they take a break from deconstructing a house Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. About 28 young men are participating in a pilot program launched by the Emerson Collective meant to help them learn job skills and find future employment while participating community renewal in many Chicago neighborhoods.  (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune) 

Brendan Taylor dances as his coworkers, clockwise from top left, David Johnson, Dimitri Chavez, Vincent Glover, Kyline Puritt and Antonio Barr laugh at him as they take a break from deconstructing a house Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. About 28 young men are participating in a pilot program launched by the Emerson Collective meant to help them learn job skills and find future employment while participating community renewal in many Chicago neighborhoods.  (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune) 

Darius Fox takes a break from helping to deconstruct a house Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. About 28 young men are participating in a pilot program launched by the Emerson Collective meant to help them learn job skills and find future employment while participating community renewal in many Chicago neighborhoods. Fox said he was incarcerated for several years on a gun charge and that the program is helping him to change his life. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune)

Darius Fox takes a break from helping to deconstruct a house Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. About 28 young men are participating in a pilot program launched by the Emerson Collective meant to help them learn job skills and find future employment while participating community renewal in many Chicago neighborhoods. Fox said he was incarcerated for several years on a gun charge and that the program is helping him to change his life. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune)

28 young men were tearing down drywall and tossing bags of debris out the windows of condemned homes Wednesday, Oct. 12, in the historic Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. They were deconstructing these buildings as part of a community renewal and jobs program initiated by the Emerson Collective, where former Former U.S. Secretary of Education and Chicago Public Schools chief Arne Duncan is a managing partner. The program reaches out to young men with histories of involvement in gangs, drugs and violence in Chicago, many of whom have been shot  and spent time in jail or prison, and offers them a chance to help themselves and the community by putting them to work. 

I spoke to 24-year-old Darius Fox, who said he was shot four times in front of a church when he was 17. It was a turning point in his life and it made him angry. He turned to selling drugs and spent three years in jail on a gun charge at 21. He said the program is helping him learn job skills, life skills and conflict management skills, all while working with other men with similar experiences.

"I like working a job. Just to have a job, that feels good, that help you feel better as a man...I ain't gotta look over my back, I ain't gotta watch out for the police, I ain't gotta worry about the police kicking in my door, nobody's trying to rob me. It’s a blessing. I feel good. I feel like a man."

Read the Chicago Tribune story by Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz