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Common on how he’s helping out Chicago’s youth

Commteam with youth from Common’s Dreamers Believers Mentoring Program Chicago | Fred Brown

Common and team with youth from Common’s Dreamers and Believers Mentoring Program in Chicago | Fred Brown

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Updated: March 20, 2013 8:38AM

Last year for my birthday, I went away with 40 of my closest friends and celebrated for three days straight. It was fantastic. Good music, good food and great company. It wasn’t until we left that we all realized we hadn’t checked our cellphones or sent emails the entire time we were together.

My birthday is here again, but I’m staying low-key this year. Things are changing. My vertical isn’t as high as it once was, and I find that lots of times, I’d just rather be home instead of out partying. I find myself asking more questions about the businesses I run and answering fewer questions about my artistic endeavors.

The changes from last year to this year go beyond me — they also extend to my team at Think Common. We’ve added a few new members, and I’m happy to report that my schedule hasn’t scared them off. We’re also gearing up for the Common Foundation’s annual Gala, where we raise money for the kids in our program to attend summer camp and receive mentoring all year. And I’m psyched! Knowing that I can use the celebrity that’s been bestowed upon me to help others is one of my biggest thrills.

This year, I want to emphasize to our kids that it’s never too early to give back. You don’t have to wait until you graduate high school or get the big-time job — you can start right now. Help your teachers carry their books to the car. Help your mom with the dishes without her asking. Volunteer at a youth center. Help a friend get a job. Too much to ask? Tiny changes lead to bigger changes, and bigger changes can reshape the landscape of your everyday life. Hopefully, I can be a living example of that to our kids with Common Ground Foundation.

I’m looking forward to coming home to Chicago to host the Gala; the Common Ground board, coaches and my business team will all be there. We’re excited to honor Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Quintin and Diane Primo, Tim Rand and Everett Rand and Gabby Douglas. If you’ll be there, I can’t wait to see you and say thanks for your support. And even if you can’t make it, I thank you, because just by reading this article you’re showing support. I hope you’ll also take a few minutes to learn more about the foundation. We don’t profess to have all the answers for what our youth in Chicago need, but at the end of the day, we can all do something — and that’s what I’m committed to.


Common donated his fee for this column to the Common Ground Foundation, which uses creative arts to expose youth to new opportunities. For more information about the Third Annual Common Ground Foundation Awards Gala, call (773) 295-191 or visit Common

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