CHICAGO (AP) – Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s wife has taken a rare step into the spotlight to do her own campaigning – for job training for high school students.
In her first interviews as Chicago’s first lady, Amy Rule on Friday highlighted the work Urban Alliance, a nonprofit group that links students from low-income neighborhoods with internships at high-profile companies. Rule, who serves as the organization’s volunteer co-chair, helped the Washington-based nonprofit expand to Chicago in February.
“What I love so much about this program is basically helping these young people at a critical point in their lives where they are maybe (going to) go to college,” Rule said. “We’re really giving them those tangible skills to be successful.”
Rule’s endorsement of the nonprofit comes as the Chicago school district is seeking to shutter schools with low enrollments.
The job-training initiative teaches students essential workplace skills, including how to dress, how to communicate and how to write a professional email. It also provides students with an opportunity to put those skills to use.
So far, the program has linked 71 Chicago public school students with internships at major law firms and sports teams such as the Bulls and the Cubs.
Rule, who has made few public appearances since returning to Chicago last year, said she decided to promote the program as it seeks to grow in the coming year.
Her low-profile approach contrasts with Maggie Daley, the wife of former Mayor Richard Daley who became a very public figure during his 22 years in office. Maggie Daley was known as a patron of the arts and for her work in education. In 1991, she launched After School Matters, which provides afterschool programs for high school students. She died in November 2011.
Rule, who has an art history degree from Tufts University and master’s in medieval art history from the University of Chicago, made it clear Friday that her absence from the public sphere has been by choice.
“I haven’t really had anything of civic interest to share,” Rule said.
Rule and Emanuel married in 1994. A former employee of the Art Institute of Chicago and City Hall, she stopped working outside the home when her first child was born. The couple have three children.
Rule said she will be speaking to more businesses on behalf of Urban Alliance in the coming weeks to line up more jobs for students during the next year.