A pastor in Chicago has been trying to raise funds to build a community center on the city’s troubled South Side and he said he reached out to Black Lives Matter for help in the fundraising but did not get a response.
Since November 2021, Chicago pastor Rev. Corey B. Brooks has lived on the roof of his Chicago church to raise $35 million for a community center. So far he’s raised $12 million.
Brooks is the founder and senior pastor of New Beginnings Church of Chicago and founder and CEO of Project H.O.O.D. Communities Development Corporation, which works to end violence in the community, according to his website.
He established the New Beginnings Church of Chicago in November 2000 in the heart of Chicago’s most dangerous neighborhood, on “O Block,” named for infamous gang member Odee Perry. Brooks’ programs have helped train more than 160 people with an 80 percent job placement rate, Brooks told The New York Post.
Brooks, 53, has been living on a roof since Nov. 20, 2021. He said he won’t come down until his “Get Pastor Brooks Off the Roof” fund drive raises $35 million in donations to build a new 84,000-square-foot community center across from the church.
“So far we’ve raised $12 million — about 80 percent of which has come from small donors across America with the rest coming from Chicago and corporate donors,” Brooks said.
Brooks said he hoped that Black Lives Matter would help him with some funding and he reached out to the organization but never got a response.
Black Lives Matter raked in $90 million in donations after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police on Memorial Day, May 25, 2020.
“At the end of 2020, I emailed the director of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation for the first time on the website where it says you can apply for donations. I kept emailing and asking: How do you go about trying to get funds for your organization from Black Lives Matter? I kept waiting for a human response or any response at all. I tried again in the summer of 2021. I never heard anything back from anyone,” said Brooks.
Brooks said he was going to try again until “we started hearing about all the problems they were having.”
BLM has been under major scrutiny over its finances, especially after it was found that the organization purchased a $6 million mansion in California. BLM Co-founder Patrisse Cullors stepped down in May 2021 and has since been defending her BLM donation spending. Tax documents recently revealed that the group has about $42 million in assets.
“I’m living up on the roof to bring attention and awareness to the violence that is so commonplace in Chicago. I want people to know what goes on here,” Brooks told The New York Post. “I stay up here 24/7. I make phone calls. I sleep in a tent, and I do pretty much everything by Zoom.
He continued, “We’re up against a lot in our immediate area. First of all, a bad education system. The elementary school has a 4 percent reading proficiency level, a 6 percent math proficiency level. So we get a lot of young men who are growing up but can’t read and so when they get to ninth grade they drop out because they’re so frustrated.”
“Secondly, we have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country in our area, especially among young Black males. Then when you add the fact that we have so many gangs from block to block, those issues compound. We’re dealing with the Gangster Disciples, the Black Disciples and the Black P Stones among others,” Brooks said of his mission.
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The planned community center, when built, will house all his programs including construction training for gang members, according to Brooks.
“Now, we have a charter school for 16-to-21-year-olds who’ve been kicked out of Chicago public schools. We’ve got them engaged in education and we get them to graduate. We also have a trade school. We offer mentoring and counseling. We have a wellness component and we also have a violence prevention team of 15 full-time employees who work in our neighborhood,” said Brooks.
The youth center will expand his reach, he said.
“We need another building because we have a construction program where we recruit men and women in gangs or who have been marginalized or are just re-entering society from prison. We train them and then we give them jobs. We have trained over 160 people so far with an 80% job placement rate. We just had our first all women’s electrician class! So we’re doing a lot of great work. We just need more space,” he said.
Photos: Left, Rev. Corey B. Brooks, https://www.projecthood.org / Right, Patrisse Cullors poses for a portrait to promote a film during the Sundance Film Festival, Jan. 27, 2019. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP, File