Mayor Richard Daley on Monday announced a major initiative to support Chinese language programs in Chicago.
Nearly $500,000 in grants from two private companies and the federal government will be used to fund the program.
"The world is getting smaller," the mayor said during a press event during a visit to the architectural offices of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill.
The "100,000 Strong," spearheaded by President Barack Obama, program aims to increase the number of American students studying in China. Daley announced Monday that he's been named a co-chair of the initiative.
"Our vision is to give our children opportunities to explore opportunities of jobs, not only here in Chicago. It has a direct affect throughout the world," said Daley. "We have to prepare our students for this global, global community. We cannot allow them to be left behind."
Additionally, Daley said six agreements were signed during his recent visit to the Asian country, of which education was a big focus.
Among them: A three-year agreement with the Wanxiang company to develop cooperative educational, cultural and professional partnerships that will serve to motivate Chicago Public School students, economic cooperation between Chicago and the Chinese cities of Tianjin and Chongqing, and "sister airport" agreements between O'Hare International and airports in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
The "Chicago-China Friendship Initiative" will continue building upon the ties and agreements after Daley leaves office next month. It will be supported by a permanent committee of Chicago business and civic leaders who will analyze the Chicago business climate and make recommendations on ways to expand the reach of the campaign in China.
Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Chicago in January.