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Youth & Opportunity United (Y.O.U.) is wrapping up its Campaign for Youth Opportunity on June 30. As honorary co-chairs of this effort, we want to share our deep gratitude for the overwhelming support and involvement of the Evanston community.

As the Mayors of Evanston, we both have a long-standing love for this City, and for its incredible young people. Ask anyone from Evanston and they’ll tell you that what makes our City so special is the diversity and the generosity of its residents. Our young people exemplify these attributes: their openness and engagement with one another make them our community’s greatest asset, and Evanstonians from all walks of life share a commitment to their success. Our community is fortunate to have such an abundance of resources and so many generous, caring residents. Together, we will continue working to ensure that every single one of our young people gets the chance to achieve their full potential.

Like so many of Evanston’s leaders, we have both been dedicated to supporting Evanston’s youth for decades: as the co-founder of Mothers Against Gangs, which recognized our kids’ desire for a safe place to have fun on Saturday nights; as an educator who worked tirelessly to provide Evanston’s students with structured, nurturing, and caring places to learn; even as a softball coach who taught 3rd and 4th graders at King Lab how to play on a team and support one another while having fun after school. Throughout these and many other roles, we both learned early on that long-term, authentic relationships are the only way to truly engage our young people and to set them up for success. Children know if you care about them, and they know if you believe in them. And it is this fundamental belief in our young people that makes Y.O.U. so special, and also that makes Evanston so special.

When we were asked to be the honorary co-chairs of Y.O.U.’s Campaign for Youth Opportunity, we were honored. We know that Y.O.U. is an integral part of the city of Evanston, and that anything that helps Y.O.U. benefits our entire community. We have seen Y.O.U.’s programming in action. We have watched its 45-year legacy of relationship-building, support, and learning grow to reach countless young people and their families each year. We have listened to poised, articulate, and college-bound Evanston Township High School graduates explain that they could not have reached their goals without the role-models, advocates, and mentors from Y.O.U. who have encouraged them to excel since third grade, and who believed unwaveringly that they deserved every opportunity our community could offer them.

The stories that these young people tell are why we believe in Y.O.U., and they are why the Evanston community does, too. These amazing young people are the reason that over 2,500 people in our community learned, volunteered, and supported Y.O.U.’s Campaign for Youth Opportunity over the last eight months. We are humbled by this community’s overwhelming support for our young people, but we are not surprised. We already knew that the people of Evanston are committed to the diversity of our community, to our young people, and to one another. And now, thanks to their support, Y.O.U. – and Evanston – are poised to serve our youth more deeply than ever before.

Looking forward, we are eager to see what comes next for Y.O.U. Their new youth center and headquarters represents a tremendous opportunity for their wraparound programming to touch even more young people. And their new home – in the heart of our community, and across the street from Evanston Township High School – will enable Y.O.U. to continue deepening its relationships: with its new neighbors; with other remarkable organizations; and with even more of our community’s youth.

We know that Evanston’s young people are its biggest asset, and we know that we still have work to do in giving those young people the resources they need to embrace their full potential. Thank you, Evanston for supporting Y.O.U. – and, most importantly, for supporting our youth – as we continue to strive toward our vision of a community where every single child is surrounded by a world of opportunity.

Mayors Tisdahl and Morton are honorary co-chairs of the Campaign for Youth Opportunity