CHICAGO
02/20/2013 12:36 pm ET | Updated Feb 20, 2013

Windy City Hoops: Rahm Emanuel Wants Chicagoans To Crowdfund Youth Basketball Program

The city of Chicago on Wednesday unveiled a crowdfunding campaign urging Chicagoans to help expand its basketball program targeted at at-risk youth.

The Windy City Hoops Indiegogo funding push, which basketball hall of famer Isiah Thomas came to town to announce in partnership with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Park Foundation, will help the city's Park District double the number of hours it offers the after-school and weekend basketball programming for the city's youth at 10 of the city's parks.

The campaign aims to raise $480,000 over the next sixty days -- and, as of Wednesday morning, the campaign has raised just over $27,000 of that total.

"For me, as a child in Chicago, basketball was a way that I could enjoy myself, make friends, stay safe and obtain the education I needed to succeed in life," Thomas explained to DNAinfo. "I am happy to be involved with a program that will allow many others the same valuable opportunities that I had."

Emanuel's broader push for new funding to support efforts to keep Chicago youth off the streets entails a lofty goal of raising $50 million in contributions from the city's business leaders over the next five years, the mayor announced this week. NBC Chicago reports Allstate Insurance CEO Tom Wilson is contributing the first $5 million toward the goal.

The contributions, Emanuel explained, will be invested in youth programs and existing neighborhood groups in some of the city's most crime-plagued neighborhoods.

"We have a very bright future. And we're going to continue to have a bright future. And making it even brighter will be investing in our children," the mayor explained to ABC Chicago.

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