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Grads of Life Paves a Path to Employment for Non-degree Opportunity Youth

Zach Brooke

This May, droves of national nonprofit execs decamped from the country’s coastal cities to descend on the gorgeous hardwood and exposed brick Lacuna Artist Lofts in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. 

Their mission: find for-profit work. Not for themselves, but for the dozens of young men and women who shrugged off the chilly showers of late spring for a chance at the American dream.


Upstairs, the job seekers convened around a breakfast buffet before taking seats in front of television monitors projecting the opaque but inspiring slogan, “The Dream Is Free But The Hustle Is Sold Separately.” As they ate, one man nourished their hunger for accomplishment with a pep talk.


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Zach Brooke is a former AMA staff writer turned freelance journalist. His work has been featured in Chicago magazine, Milwaukee Magazine, A.V. Club and VICE, among others. Follow him on Twitter @Zach_Brooke.