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As the numbers of unemployed continue to rise across the nation, the Youth Job Center of Evanston is proving otherwise by finding permanent jobs for 615 young men and women this fiscal year, up 15% from last year, according to YJC officials.

 Ms. Sacella Smith, YJC’s executive director, says she believes the formula for its success is two fold. “We hold every young job-seeker accountable … and we work to strengthen our relationships with employers.”

 Established in 1983, the YJC has assisted more than 20,000 young people  with job placement, employment counseling and ongoing support. Dedicated to preparing young men and women, ages 14-25, for success in the workplace, YJC’s core placement services include job search support and guidance, job-readiness training and workshops on topics such as interview skills, resume preparation, and communication skills.

 Ms. Smith emphasizes the high expectations YJC staff has for every job-seeker who comes through their doors. “If we don’t hold our youth accountable we are setting them up for failure,” she says.

 Each job-seeker must fill out an application, undergo an interview process and participate in a mandatory series of job skills workshops before meeting with a YJC counselor or receiving job referrals.

 “We are not an entitlement organization,” continues Ms. Smith, “but a place where young people can learn the proficiencies they need to progress in a career path.”

 YJC works directly with employers to match the right people with the right opportunities. “We can talk about job training and placement all day long, but if businesses aren’t at the table, we won’t get very far,” says Ms. Smith.

 YJC works to nurture its relationships with reputable firms throughout the Chicagoland area. Ms. Smith, says, “We identify both the job-seekers’ strengths and where the employers have their gaps. Consequently, we find people are staying in their positions longer.”

 YJC also provides a unique post-placement program that includes regular meetings and site visits with YJC clients and their employer to check on progress and status.

 “Companies are hiring, ” says Ms. Smith. “It’s about making sure the job seekers are fully prepared and understand that they are ultimately responsible for their own success.”

YJC Executive Director to Be Honored at NAACP Banquet

The NAACP Evanston/North Shore Branch has selected Ms. Sacella M. Smith, executive director of the Youth Job Center of Evanston, as one of the 2011 recipients of its distinguished Community Impact Award.  The award recognizes leaders for their efforts in enhancing the community in alignment with the NAACP mission.   Under Sacella Smith’s leadership, the Youth Job Center has become a critical force in creating opportunities and providing hope to all youth. She inspires others to reach their fullest potential and inclues those who have often been ignored.

“”This is a very special honor,”” states Ms. Smith.  “”At a time when unemployment is at a 30-year high for youth, particularly youth of color, it is truly a pleasure to be recognized by the NAACP for the work we are doing at the Youth Job Center.””

The award will be presented at the NAACP Evanston/North Shore Branch’s 47th Annual Freedom Fund Banquet on Nov. 5, from 6-10 p.m. at the North Shore Holiday Inn in Skokie, IL.  For information or tickets, please contact Ms. Gerri Sizemore at 847-677-7869.

Anne Bodine

Anne Bodine, Community News Editor, has been a part of The Evanston RoundTable since 2008 as a reporter covering businesses and institutions; arts and entertainment; and health and wellness. More recently,...