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The Youth Job Center (YJC) has received a $200,000 Illinois grant, which will be used to retrofit the facility and make it more environmentally friendly and energy efficient. In addition to helping the YJC “go green,” the grant will also enable the agency to put more young people to work – the YJC’s core mission.
State Assistant Majority Leader Jeff Schoenberg said in making the announcement, “This important capital investment will create jobs in our community that will pay dividends for dozens of young Evanston residents. The Youth Job Center‘s job creation initiative will also ensure that the building renovation will realize significant reductions in energy costs as the result of this comprehensive ‘greening’ process.”
YJC board president Jim Kauffman said, “This funding comes at a time when youth unemployment is at its highest level in more than 60 years and funding for youth-serving organizations is being drastically reduced. This grant not only provides jobs to young people but also enhances the programs and services of the YJC by making the facility more efficient and effective.”
YJC Executive Director Sacella Smith said, “We’re extremely grateful for this state funding. These will be dollars well spent as the funding provides much-needed jobs for our community’s youth.”
YJC officials say they expect substantial cost savings with the new efficiency measures, including an estimated 40 percent savings in electricity and an overall 60 percent savings in heating and cooling. These savings will be accomplished through a number of structural enhancements, including upgrades to the electrical and lighting systems, new windows and roofing, and improved insulation of the building envelope, as well as other significant improvements. Officials say they hope the new improvements will help qualify the building for eventual LEED certification.
YJC clients will be interviewed and hired in October to begin work on the project.
In addition, the Youth Job Center of Evanston received more than $5,000 from Northwestern University‘s Suitcase Party earlier this spring. The philanthropy selects a beneficiary each year to weekly direct volunteer services and a financial contribution. Melissa Krauss, public relations co-chair for the event, said several reasons led the group to select the Youth Job Center, including its proximity to the Northwestern campus and their desire as students to work with individuals close to their same age.
“We wanted to learn more about the Evanston area and give back to the community in which we live,” she said.
With the difficult economy, YJC Development Director Kim Hoopingarner says the students’ commitment to making a difference in youth unemployment is meaningful for the organization and Chicago-area as a whole. “We were very grateful to receive such a generous donation. Those students’ efforts help us to provide quality job counseling during a crucial time for our communities.”