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  • Hip Hop Architecture Design Competition

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‘I Can’ Institute

Chicago, IL

“I know I can, be what I wanna be…”

“I know I can/be what I wanna be/If I work hard at it/I’ll be where I wanna be.” The confident, hopeful song intro to Nas’ “I Can” is a message of endless optimism. In order to break the cycle of systemic racism, we must start with the children. At the I Can Institute, they can have the world at their fingertips and grow up understanding that diversity contributes to a vibrant society.

The I Can Institute is a multifaceted network of facilities guiding today’s youth and empowering them for the future. It comprises an interactive museum, classrooms, a maker space, a library, a safe place where youth of all ages, races, and backgrounds can come to learn about themselves and where they want to go in life.

ICI will engage with different ages in unique ways. Programs for the youngest would stimulate their creativity and encourage growth. Older teenagers receive real world experience: opportunities for internships, college advice, and job placement. Notable industry leaders will host lectures and workshops.

A green roof provides opportunities to learn about horticulture, and clean energy. A retail space provides books and supplies. Flagship locations will be centrally located in key metropolitan areas, with a network of smaller satellite branches housed in streetfront locations, and retrofitted vacant mall spaces.

At ICI, the optimism of youth will be encouraged as our future generations put their mark in the history books next to the Kings and Queens of ancient civilizations.