The local Urban League is one of six affiliates in the country that has a grant to continue a pilot program designed to prepare young people in the 18 - 24 age group for the workforce.
The local Urban League’s success with its Urban Youth Empowerment Program is the reason the agency is able to continue the pilot project with a $200,000 grant funded through a joint venture between the U.S. Department of Labor and the National Urban League.
Of the 27 affiliates originally funded through the project, the local Urban League had the third-highest number of participants who found and retained jobs after going through the program.
About the Urban League
After a wave of black migrants fleeing oppression in the South for opportunity in the North in the early 1900s, a wealthy white widow, Ruth Standish Baldwin, and George Edmund Haynes, a social worker and the first black to receive a doctoral degree from Columbia University, took the lead in founding the Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes in 1910.
Based in New York, the committee soon merged with two other organizations. Haynes became the first director. The organization shortened its name to the National Urban League in 1920.
As the organization grew, independent affiliates spread throughout the country. The Tri-County affiliate, based in Peoria, was founded in 1965 by an interracial group of local citizens.
In 1964, Erma Davis, Valeska Hinton and Helen Leatherwood urged a group of local businessmen and community leaders to start an Urban League affiliate in Peoria. The group passed the hat, raising $27,000 in one night. Frank Campbell was hired as the first director a year later, and Talman Van Arsdale, then president of Bradley University, was the first president of the board of directors.
The national office sets the Urban League’s broad mission on issues of education, employment, housing, health and civil rights while some 100 affiliates are free to localize the mission to suit community needs. Unemployment remains a chief area of concern at the national and local level.