Illinois’ richest person donated $5 million to Project H.O.O.D. – a community organization dedicated to ending Chicago violence – ahead of his businesses’ departure from the Windy City.
Pastor Corey Brooks, Project H.O.O.D.’s founder and CEO, said he felt "exceedingly great joy" when he learned about the donation from Ken Griffin, a billionaire and outspoken critic of Chicago’s crime and tax policies.
"I know that he desperately wants to make Chicago is a safer place," Brooks told Fox News. "What better way to do that than through our organization totally focused on that issue?"
"His heart is in the right place to end the violence and transform lives of people here in the Englewood community," the pastor added.
Griffin recently shared plans to bring his hedge fund, Citadel LLC, and his trading firm, Citadel Securities, to Miami, where he’s already moved his family.
The gift "speaks volumes of him and his character and how much he really loves Chicago," Brooks told Fox News, highlighting that he didn’t have a previous relationship with Griffin.
"I think he appreciates our core values of what we’re doing to try and help people," the pastor continued. "We’re trying to transform the lives of people by giving them opportunities. I think that our focus on eliminating as much violence as possible was a major factor as well."
Griffin has been a vocal critic of Chicago’s crime and has said it’s made it difficult for him to hire high-quality talent.
"I’ve had multiple colleagues mugged at gunpoint," he told The Wall Street Journal in April. "I’ve had a colleague stabbed on the way to work. Countless issues of burglary."
Brooks, meanwhile, has spent the better part of the last eight months on a Chicago rooftop as part of an ongoing campaign to raise $35 million to build a community center intended to end violence and provide opportunities. The pastor plans for it to serve a variety of purposes, ranging from job training to giving youth a place to go after school rather than the streets.
Brooks said he’s only left the roof for speaking engagements and for three weeks due to his mother dying from cancer in the spring. He otherwise endured Chicago’s bitter winter nights and now summer, which he said has included some "extremely hot" days.
From the roof, Brooks hosted Fox News’ "Rooftop Revelation" series in which he gave monologues and interviewed community and business leaders to discuss life experiences and offer solutions to poverty and violence.
Griffin’s donation puts Project H.O.O.D. over its halfway point at $18 million, Brooks said, noting that he won’t leave the roof until he reaches his goal.
The award "lends more credibility to what we’re attempting to do from very influential people," the pastor told Fox News. "I think the donation will garner more attention and cause more people to help us."
Project H.O.O.D. will name the community center’s atrium after Griffin, Brooks said.
Learn more about Project H.O.O.D. here.
For more information, please visit Project H.O.O.D.