(Evanston, Ill.) – Many foundations and businesses have recognized the important work of the Youth Job Center of Evanston (YJC) and awarded the agency a total of $124,500 in grants during the month of December. Grants were received from the Gap Foundation, Eleanor Foundation, Stanley McNeil Foundation, Marcia and Meta Gross Foundation, Rice Foundation, Wachovia Bank Foundation and Bank of America. “We are very appreciative of these generous donations, especially during this time of economic uncertainty and with record numbers of youth unemployment,” said YJC Executive Director Sacella Smith. “It’s a great way to end the year and begin a new decade of serving the Chicago area.” Ms. Smith noted that the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported youth unemployment hit a peak 26.7 percent this November, compared to 20.4 percent in November 2008. “With joblessness so high, we at the YJC are working extra hard to help young people identify training opportunities, find jobs and launch careers,” she said. “The grants we’ve received this month will provide support to some of the neediest in our target population.” The Eleanor Foundation’s $42,000 gift will fund a new pilot program component called Women Investing in Learning and Livelihoods (WILL), which seeks to break the cycle of poverty by providing a bridge of support to female clients, particularly single mothers, facing underemployment. Nearly 60 percent of the YJC’s client population is female and 25 percent of all clients served are single mothers. By integrating professional development, financial literacy and access to affordable childcare, these women will have the opportunity for career and wage progression. The WILL program will be an extension of the YJC’s existing programs, offering help to working women as they strive for the next level of employment. It will help the YJC accomplish its goal to create permanent solutions for its clients while helping them to break the cycle of poverty. The $50,000 gift from the Gap Foundation is already being used toward the Outpost satellite office at Evanston Township High School and the Summer Tutors program, as well as paid summer internships with Old Navy and Banana Republic for 16- to 18-year-olds. Funds from the Bank of America ($10,000), the Stanley McNeil Foundation ($7,500), the Marcia and Meta Gross Foundation ($5,000), the Rice Foundation ($5,000) and the Wachovia Bank Foundation ($5,000) will also be used toward the Summer Tutors program and other Youth Employment programs. 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