Two organizations with programs that return homeless persons to the job market will benefit from Evanstonians’ Tuesday shopping during the month of August. Twenty-six Evanston businesses have pledged a percentage of their sales on those five Tuesdays to Connections and the YWCA Evanston/North Shore to bolster their job-training programs. Both organizations provide job training, financial literacy programs and other support to help their clients make the transition from homelessness to shelter, employment and a more stable life.
The Tuesday-shopping program, Evanston Works Together, hopes to promote a prosperous circle of business growth and increased employment, said Lynne Johnson of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on Davis Street, where the program officially kicked off on Aug. 6.
The YWCA has several programs that promote leadership and economic empowerment for women, said Kathy Slaughter, development director of the YWCA Evanston North Shore. It financial literacy program, Basic Money Management for Women, is designed to help women understand their results of their financial decisions and educate them to make thoughtful financial choices, said Patricia Hunter, economic empowerment manager . She teaches the class, which is designed to strengthen the money management skills of low- to moderate-income women.
At Connections, staff members work with clients to capitalize on the skill they already have and help them obtain and retain jobs that pay a living wage, according to their website. The four components of that program are job-readiness training, job counseling and case management, a job club that offers ongoing support for job seekers and the newly employed, and job development – working with local employers to help clients find full-time employment. Shopping local increases the revenues of local businesses, allowing them to hire more local residents, said Sue Loellbach of Connections.
Some of the Evanston businesses that employ Connections clients are Sodexho, Harborquest, Starbucks, and Brown, Kaplan & Liss, said Paul Selden, executive director of Connections.
The Evanston Works Together program is an offshoot of “Heading Home,” the City’s five-year plan to end homelessness here. One of its goals is to “create more job opportunities and vocational training.”
Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl described two other efforts that she said will help employ Evanstonians: bringing classes offered by Oakton Community College to the high school and trying to entice the Code Academy of Chicago to open a branch in Evanston. The Code Academy offers three-month classes in web development, web design and how to use HTML and CSS to create web pages. Mayor Tisdhal said the Academy is looking to expand and she has met with them about coming to Evanston.
The program, endorsed by 26 local businesses, is sponsored by Romano Wealth Management, Acquirent LLC and the Community Investment Council of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.