(Evanston, Ill.) — The Youth Job Center of Evanston received an additional $155,000 of stimulus funding through the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act to extend its paid internship program for youth ages 18-24 through March 2010.

The notification about the funds was delivered by Jennifer Stasch, executive director of the Workforce Board of Northern Cook County at the YJC’s celebration party at Carmen’s Pizzeria. The party recognized the more than 20 youth who completed the first round of internships in late August and early September. The event featured awards for both participants and employers. A highlight of the celebration was viewing a documentary about the program made by three interns who worked at the Evanston Community Media Center (ECMC) during the summer.

“It’s exciting to acknowledge the success of the program and the impact it’s made, while also knowing there is great potential to provide more jobs for our youth in the future,” said Amy Nelson, Out of School Summer Youth Employment Counselor for the YJC.

The funds extend the original award of $125,000 given to the YJC in May as part of President Obama’s plan to increase employment opportunities for youth, a population that was the hardest hit by the recession. The YJC was the only Evanston based organization to receive stimulus funding for youth employment services.

The partnership with the Workforce Board of Northern Cook County allows the YJC to establish additional internships for out-of-school youth ages 18 to 24 who qualify under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) provision. The internship program is designed help low-income youth with multiple barriers, such as basic skills deficiencies or criminal backgrounds, gain employment. The youth have the opportunity to gain approximately 300 hours of paid work experience in career fields.

This summer, the YJC placed the participants in various workplaces around the community according to their interests, skills and suitability. Internship sites included the Salvation Army, City of Evanston, Family Focus and CJE Senior Life. The participants received intensive job-readiness training through YJC pre-employment workshops and classroom instructions, as well as pre-and post-job-readiness assessments through Illinois Worknet.

The Youth Job Center is currently recruiting participants for its next round of internships. Candidates must be 18-24, live in Evanston or northern Cook County and be committed to their workplace and their own personal development.

The Youth Job Center of Evanston prepares youth ages 14-25 for success in the workplace through job-readiness, placement and employment support in partnership with employers.

For more information or to set up an interview, please contact Melanie Wanzek, Communications Assistant, at 847-864-5627 ext. 19 or media@youthjobcenter.org.