Mayor Richard M. Daley and Chicago Public Schools officials today announced $480,217 in grants from two private companies and the federal government that will be used to support the school system’s Chinese language and culture programs.
The Mayor also announced he has been appointed by the State Department to be Co-Chair of the “100,000 Strong Initiative” Advisory Committee. The program was created by President Obama and its goal is to dramatically increase the number and diversify the composition of American students studying in China.
“I intend to do everything I can to achieve that goal. We need the private sector to step up and increase its commitment to support Americans studying in China,” he said.
In a news conference held at the offices of the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, 224 S. Michigan Av., Daley also reported on some immediate outcomes of his recent trip to China and Hong Kong with a delegation of Chicago business leaders, where they began the “Chicago-China Friendship Initiative.” The purpose is to raise the City’s profile as a center of international commerce, increase tourism from China and establish Chicago as the most “China-friendly” city in the United States.
“We are all extremely happy with the results of the trip to China,” the Mayor said.
“Not only were we able to create a solid framework for expanding our business, educational and cultural connections with China and Hong Kong, but we were also able to execute six agreements that will begin to pay benefits to Chicago immediately,” he said.
Daley said education is the most important investment the City has made over the years to support its long-term economic health.
“Our vision is to give all our students the kind of global education that prepares them to be leaders in Chicago, in our nation and in the world,” he said. “The grants we are announcing today will help us reach that goal.”
- The first grant is for $100,000 from the Wanxiang Company of Hangzhou, China to create two four-week sessions in the summer of 2012 and 2013 for as many as 20 CPS high school students to study Chinese in Hangzhou.
While in Hangzhou, Daley toured the Wanxiang manufacturing plant. The company’s U.S. headquarters are in Rockford and it has a solar panel assembly plant in Elgin and real estate and venture capital companies in Chicago. Altogether, the company has about 400 employees in the Chicago region.
“Programs such as this one are critical to helping further the dialogue between cultures and helping students improve their fluency in Chinese,” Daley said.
- CPS will also receive a grant of $100,000 from the Motorola Solutions Foundationthat will also support sending CPS students to study in China. Like the Wanxiang grant, the Motorola grant is part of President Obama’s “100,000 Strong” Initiative. That program aims to increase significantly the number of Americans who have the opportunity to study in China. Students representing a variety of Chicago neighborhoods will get the opportunity to learn side-by-side with Chinese students, fostering a sense of understanding and camaraderie.
“It’s cooperation like this that builds strong, diverse economies that help improve the quality of life for residents and help us to compete in the new global society,” Daley said.
- CPS will receive $99,970 through the federal government’s “Startalk” program, which will provide 60 CPS high school students the opportunity to study intensive Chinese at the University of Chicago for four weeks during the summer of 2011.
- And the school system will receive a grant of $180,247 through the National Security Language Initiative for Youth program. This grant will help implement a CPS Chinese Summer Language Institute that will provide 20 Chicago high school students with an opportunity for immersion in the Mandarin language.
“These grants provide a wonderful opportunity for our young people to meet other young people with similar interests and to build the kind of relationships that are enhanced by knowing someone else’s language,” Daley said.
The Mayor said these six agreements were signed on the China trip:
- A 3-year agreement with Wanxiang under which the company and the City will develop cooperative educational, cultural and professional partnerships that will serve to motivate Chicago Public School students to choose Chinese as their World Language and to continue Chinese language study beyond the minimum two-year requirement of the World Language Program.
- An agreement with the City of Tianjin for continued cooperation between the two cities. Tianjin has had an economic development office in Chicago for the past 10 years and the cooperative relationship between the two cities has grown steadily over the years.
- A similar cooperation agreement with the City of Chongqing, which has been compared to Chicago because it is an industrial gateway that opens the country to its rural heartland.
- “Sister Airport” agreements for O’Hare with the airports in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
These are productive arrangements under which the parties share technical, commercial and environmental best practices and set up working groups to cooperate on a wide range of areas including airport management, construction, planning, operations, information technology and sustainable development.
The Mayor said that agreements such as these can play a big role in helping Chicago expand in the growing Asia-Pacific aviation market and that the city expects to sign a future airport agreement with Chongqing.
Daley said the City is also pursuing a pilot program of joint city promotion with Shanghai that can serve as a model for city-to-city promotion in other regions of China. In addition, World Business Chicago and the Hong Kong Trade Association have agreed to coordinate a program of joint promotion to their respective networks as well through their publications.
In addition, he said that as a result of Chinese President Hu’s visit here and Daley’s visit to Beijing, the Walter Payton and the Beijing #4 High School have agreed to be “Sister Schools” and that this summer, when Payton students visit Beijing on the invitation of President Hu, they will be hosted at the Beijing #4 high school.
On the trip, the Mayor met with, among others, the Chinese Minister of Commerce, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, the Mayors of all the cities he visited and the U.S. Consul General.
The Chicago delegation toured urban planning exhibitions in Tianjin and Chongqing and a Motorola Plant in Tianjin.
Daley delivered presentations highlighting Chicago and the “Chicago-China Friendship Initiative,” and did numerous media interviews to talk about how Chicago is a great place to do business and visit.
The “Chicago-China Friendship Initiative” will be supported by a permanent committee of Chicago business and civic leaders who will analyze the Chicago business climate and make recommendations on ways to expand the reach of the campaign in China.
Some of these leaders will make another trip to China in June coordinated by the Chicago-China Economic Development Center, the City’s economic development office in Shanghai.
The Mayor thanked the business leaders who accompanied him on the trip and the corporate sponsors who made the trip possible. He also thanked the Chinese government, the Consul General and the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries for their support and World Business Chicago for organizing the trip.
“We already have a very strong relationship with China, but the economic future of Chicago depends greatly on our success in seeking opportunities in China and around the globe,” Daley said. “It would be difficult to overstate the importance of the relationships we’re establishing there.”
“There has never been a better time to expand the City’s connections with China and no other American city is so committed to a long-term strategy of friendship and cooperation with China as Chicago,” he said.