Youth, unemployment and crime can form a Bermuda triangle in a community, and the City of Evanston is looking for ways to bring some of its youth out of the storm by offering counseling, job training and education, and, in some cases, a job. In cooperation with Evanston Township High School and several local agencies that offer job skills and employment services to youth, the City hopes to be able to transfer at least 30 Evanston youth from street corner to workplace in the coming year.
“What we‘ve learned is that there are a lot of kids wanting to work. We have talented people who want to work; they may be hanging out in the street, but they want to work,” said Doug Gaynor, director of the City’s Parks, Forestry and Community Service department, which also oversees youth services.
The centerpiece of the City’s efforts will be a “Youth and Young Adult Job Training Program,” said Sol Anderson, youth coordinator for the City. This program will have five subset programs: career mentoring (job placement for underemployed youth or those out of school); direct assistance (support in job search and job-training); youth employment (summer program for youth aged 14-18); general referral (to job opportunities); and a partnership with Evanston Township High School in its Career Pathways program (education and employment).
Mr. Gaynor said these programs represent an expansion of the Summer Youth Employment Program, which began in 1992. There is also a new focus, he said, a “shift [from only employment] to career training and mentoring. … Each component will entail “soft-skills” training, “such as how to dress for a job and how to communicate with coworkers.” He added the City plans to make each job “meaningful.”