Activist wants to turn vacant building into South Side community center

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CHICAGO -- A former youth ambassador for Mayor Emanuel turned community activist is putting his words into action in Chicago’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood, trying to turn a vacant building into a center for peace on Chicago’s South Side.

Ja’mal Green is the heart and soul behind an effort by his nonprofit Majostee All Stars to restore an old, rundown bank building, and make it into a community center for Chicago’s youth.

"I think Auburn Gresham right now really needs this, because it doesn’t have a place where youth can grow and learn... about different skills they’re not going to learn about in school," Green said.

Green said the building could host lessons in everything from entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and credit development, while also including a multi-purpose theater, in-house daycare and an aeroponic garden on the rooftop.

His plan covers every inch of over 12,000 square feet of space. But the vision is in dire need of funds.

"We’re not getting any government funding, no state funding, we’re doing this all with private dollars," Green said. Raising money as a GoFundMe project online, Green says he has about a third of the funds needed to buy the building. Renovations to realize the ambitious plan could also cost over $1.5 million.

"This is what i’m doing to be a part of the solution," Green said. "I didn’t just want to talk about it… I wanted to take all the things I saw wrong and put them in one facility where we can change the state of our communities."