Excerpts from the ChicagoSunTimes.com:

A single parent of two toddlers, Tashonna Williams has mostly worked at fast-food restaurants since graduating Bogan High. She is among 30 young people from the inner city set to begin EMT training on Monday, through $30,000 in donations from the city’s Black Fire Brigade group, to cover their tuition, books, and uniforms.

When black Chicago firefighters launched the nation’s first such organization in June, among their stated mission was to impact inner-city violence by mentoring young people from their new Ashburn neighborhood headquarters at 8404 S. Kedzie. At the grand opening, president and founder Quention Curtis had presented his own personal check for $10,000 to send 10 young people from the South and West sides to EMT school. In the wake of news coverage, however, the Brigade was flooded with inquiries — from young people seeking that life-changing opportunity, and from donors wanting to help.

After the 90-day course, the 15 male and 15 female candidates between the ages of 18 and 30 will receive the certification required for an Illinois EMT license, which is transferable nationwide. They’ll also get job placement from the Brigade, which was founded to preserve the history and heritage of Chicago’s African-American fire and EMS personnel and help prepare more African-Americans for the firefighter exam.

Out of a total force of 5,100 firefighters, 697 are African-American; of 840 paramedics, 53 are African-American.

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