Amid the unfolding of the COVID-19 public health crisis in the area, Evanston Cradle to Career (EC2C) quickly mobilized its collective resources and infrastructure to lead community coordination efforts aimed at delivering immediate solutions to families and students in the community.

In the wake of the unprecedented shelter-at-home directive, Evanston Cradle to Career immediately infused $180,000 of current or redirected funds into the community to provide immediate relief to families and support programs that provide a continuum of care for those facing housing instability, food insecurity, unemployment, and other destabilizing conditions brought on by the COVID-19crisis.

  • $10,000 of redirected funds by Advocates for Action, named “Virtual Pantry,” provided electronic gift cards for 200 families in Evanston
  • $25,000 will be distributed through Evanston Own It, a collaboration of Black churchesin Evanston, to families in their communities with extraordinary need during thistime.
  • $25,000 secured via the Chicago COVID Rapid Response Fund went directly to financial assistance for families who, because of their immigration status, are not eligible for unemployment, general assistance, or stimulus funds.
  • $50,000 of redirected grant funds will support continued wraparound service provision for opportunity youth especially affected by COVID-19. Connections for the Homeless, Erie Family Health, and PEER Services lead the effort to make housing, treatment, and support services available for the participants of nine EC2C partner organizations serving opportunity youth.
  • $50,000 of current grant funds support trauma-informed counseling directly available to families with small children, now including counseling directly related to the trauma of the COVID-19 crisis and shelter-in-place directive
  • $20,000 of redirected grant funds support a pre-apprenticeship program for 16 Evanston Township High School seniors transitioning from school to work. The program includes training, subsidized work, and support for transition to full-time work.

In addition to the deployment of fiscal resources, EC2C’s unique and intentional convening infrastructure, built over the past five years, allowed for swift mobilization of existing communication networks.

Members of EC2C’s Operations team Sheila Merry and Monique Brunson Jones, Executive Directors of EC2C and the Evanston Community Foundation, respectively, along with Executive Director of Community Relations at Northwestern Dave Davis convene the Mayor’s COVID-19 Nonprofit Task Force to share information from the Mayor’s COVID-19 Task Force calls, identify community needs, and create shared solutions among Evanston nonprofits.

Current focus areas include:

  • Responding to growing food insecurity
  • Assessing and providing childcare for essential workers
  • Addressing the specific needs of diverse immigrant groups
  • Managing the challenges of congregate housing in the era of COVID-19 EC2C continues to bolster the community connectivity through shared information by
  1. Providing up-to-date details on new and emerging funding streams to support our vibrant nonprofit community
  2. Coordinating information for Evanston residents on the EC2C COVID-19 Resources page on our website
  3. Debuting Facebook Live and social media opportunities, via our Student Advocates, for school students to connect virtually and share their experiences of living in the age of COVID-19 and gain strategies and tips for staying healthy and well during this exceptional time.

Evanston Cradle to Career’s mission is driving change through the power of collective action, and the organization says it is committed to continuing to respond to the needs of the community and deliver solutions that directly respond.