Summer tutor Mary O’Kane helps a rising third grader with a math problem. Mary is one of more than 40 summer teen tutors paid by the YJC who work as teacher assistants in District 65’s summer learning program.

Thanks to the ongoing partnership with District 65, new initiatives with the McGaw YMCA and Youth Organizations Umbrella, the Youth Job Center was able to help nearly 65 Evanston teens find summer jobs. The Evanston Community Foundation-sponsored “ABC Boosters” program provided an additional 10 jobs for Evanston teens.

“Teens have to go through a rigorous application process to earn one of our sum-
mer positions,” said Director of Development and Strategic Partnerships Kim Hoopingarner. “Once employed, the teens are paid by and receive support from YJC.”

Teens in the ABC Boosters program work with a curriculum developed by the Evanston Public Library to assist rising kindergarteners develop their literacy skills. Teens proficient in Spanish work in the bilingual classrooms and in  the “Newcomers” program for children and their families who are new to the U.S. and where English is their second language. The youth working with the McGaw YMCA and YOU function in a junior-counselor capacity, assisting elementary-aged children in their programs through a variety of tasks.

Juliana Rohrlack, summer school site coordinator at Oakton School, said, “Summer tutors work as teacher assistants with rising third-grade students – students needing some assistance transitioning from learning how to read to reading to learn.”
Supervising teacher Amy Sullivan said she loves having the assistance of a summer tutor in her classroom. “My tutor, Mary, has been really helpful. I can be working with half the students on math and Mary can work with the other half on reading. It’s wonderful for the children to have that extra attention.”

Cody New, site supervisor of the YMCA program hosted at Oakton Elementary School, said, “I am currently working with two YJC teen helpers, and I would definitely hire them again next summer. They are both a big help and it’s been great to see them gain more confidence in their roles each day.”

A recent New York Times article noted that teen employment has gone steadily down in the past decade with only about 26% of teens in the job market today compared with over 40% in the 1990s. Low-income and minority teens are even more unlikely to find employment, with only 17% of African American male teens currently employed.

“The experience of a summer job goes way beyond simply earning a paycheck,” said Ms. Hoopingarner. “When teens are employed, they learn about the world of work at an early age and also how to successfully navigate the job-search process.”