PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Peoria Role Model Project launched on Thursday. Mayor Dr. Rita Ali is the brains behind the initiative. The program is funded by PNC Foundation and will connect 150 youth with 100 local Black professionals.

The first 50 professionals were introduced at the launch. The occupancies included a general manager at Dollar Tree, city councilmembers and Peoria’s Assistant Fire Chief.

Mayor Ali said the program is about cultural identification which she believes is important in helping youth achieve success.

“It’s getting to know one another, developing those positive relationships. Actually presenting examples of positive Black role models to these young people,” she said. “Especially those that live in distressed areas of our city that may not see or have access to these remarkable individuals.”