The Black United Fund: Connecting with the Community at Carruther’s Center

Rachel Hall , Writer

The Black United Fund, founded by legendary activist and leader, Mr. Henry English – who died unexpectedly in March – held its budget meeting at the Carruthers’ Center for Inner City Studies.

The Black United Fund of Illinois is a multi-faceted organization that raises funds to support critical social service and cultural organizations throughout Chicago and this evening’s meeting was no different. Many Chicago area organizations were in attendance to collectively support the causes that impact the lives of youths and their families.

Dr. Conrad Worrill the director of the Jacob Carruthers’ Center, lifelong friend and fellow activist said that English’s sudden death had shaken him and that he and English were working on project strategy for that same weekend. “He was in the movement to the end,” Worrill said.

Other organizations who were in attendance were the Cabot Group, who assist youths and adults with housing; Phalanx Family Services of Chicago, which is an organization that serves communities by providing employment for youths with programs such as Soars, and the Work First Program that provides participants with employable skills and training.

Phalanx played a part in getting Public Act 1225, House Bill 3631, the Community Youth and Employment Act passed in the General Assembly that provides grant monies to further the visions of many of these organizations to continue to focus on the much needed services that assist our youth in many areas.

It wasn’t just these organizations that attended this budget meeting, but many teens found this opportunity to come to Carruthers’ and get assistance with employment and the much needed social services that are being threatened by the budget cuts that have plagued the state of Illinois and in turn, the city of Chicago.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Henry English’s son Jummane English, who is the assistant project manager for the Black United Fund, and I’d say he has stepped into some pretty big shoes.

“We have no plans to change anything about what we do here,” English said. “We will carry out his (Henry English) legacy and stay in line with the vision my father had for our company since 1985.”

Manny Frencha, a graduate student from the Carruthers’ Center for Inner City Studies remembers seeing Mr. English in the hallways of the center when he was a professor there.

“I didn’t know him personally, but what he stood and fought for was evident. Our Inner City Studies group is discussing different avenues where “we” can also be a united front with many of these social agencies that are making a difference in our community,” Frencha said.

Gloria-Brown Reed, who is also a graduate of the Inner City Studies program and the library assistant at the center said, “He was the best. I worked with Mr. English on proposals and grants, and that man, was amazing. I learned so much from him and I still have some of the work we did together.”