I run a non-profit called Do Your P'Art Foundation that brings kids from all over Chicago and the suburbs together through school partnerships and field trips. We work with about 1,000 students a year and keep growing. The program’s purpose is to open up our minds to each other by working on projects that affect all of us as humans.

While going to some of the collaboration meetings I see all sorts of schools and gang lines, parents taking their kids to and from school in cabs so as not to be recognized by other gang members —just bad stuff. I see kids not allowed to go outside to play at all because of the danger. If it is so unsafe to get to school and be in school, how is one supposed to actually be ready to learn?

After giving this much thought, here are some of my ideas:

Marry benefit corporations, a new class of businesses that are required to make a positive impact on the community and environment, with Chicago neighborhoods. They’re good for business and good for the community. Benefit corporations meet rigorous social and environmental performance standards. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are in favor of this new way of business leadership. These companies consider their employees more like team players and enlist their suggestions to improvements then implement those suggestions and ideas.

This can be done in neighborhoods; it's a matter of coordination. I've come across creative, problem-solving and socially-conscious architects (Frank Flury of the Illinois Institute of Technology; Pete Landon of Landon, Bone and Baker; and Architreasures) who have built community centers using neighborhood input and sweat equity.

I have come across the absolute finest teachers and administrators in Chicago Public Schools. These people are resources for brainstorming and examples of how we should educate our children. We need to create safe learning environments for kids in the city. 

We can, together in numbers, with dedication to the greater good of our city and its inhabitants, harness and coordinate our individual efforts to start turning this ship around.

— Sally Schneiders, Chicago