Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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New grant to fund youth job center

Juvon Vialdores pounded the pavement for more than two years before a local movie theater finally hired him last year. Now the 22-year-old has to worry about his friends.

“Nobody’s hiring,” he said. “I’ve had friends fill out plenty of applications, and they just don’t get calls back.”

Vialdores and his peers are not alone. The youth unemployment rate nation-wide has reached an intimidating 25 percent, according to organizers at Youth Job Center of Evanston. To help combat this issue in Evanston, YJC, an organization aiming to assist youth in building job-readiness and gaining on-the-job experience, received $124,500 in grants last month.

The money will finance YJC events like the Summer Tutors Program, the Evanston Township High School Outpost of YJC and the new program Women Investing in Learning and Livelihoods. Through WILL, YJC will support 15 women between the ages of 18 and 25 years old for a period of two years, providing them childcare and facilitating education to help in acquiring higher-paying jobs.

Seven organizations, including the Gap Foundation and the Eleanor Foundation, a group that supports women in the Chicago area, donated money.

“The job market is really bad,” said Jordan Burghardt, employment outreach coordinator at YJC. “Even though a lot of accounts are saying the recession is over, that hasn’t translated into more employers hiring people.”

YJC aims to give youth the tools necessary to obtain employment.

“It’s really important that young people have the resources to put their foot in the door and level the playing field,” Burghardt said.

Sol Anderson, Evanston’s youth coordinator, agreed young people need extra assistance in getting hired.

“Youth tend to get pushed out of the job market because, as people with more experience get laid off, they move into sectors where youth typically work,” Anderson said.

Evanston faces a significant youth unemployment problem, said Kim Hoopingarner, development director at YJC.

“Evanston is a very diverse community-38 percent of the students at Evanston Township High School qualify for free or reduced lunch,” she said. “A lot of kids who come to the Outpost at ETHS are coming to help their families because 11 percent of families are at or below the poverty level in the City of Evanston.”

Although joblessness has no direct correlation to delinquency, it remains a factor, Anderson said.

“Not being able to make that money through legitimate channels can lead kids to look for that money through illegal ways,” he said. “Some of the crimes that are committed, like drug dealing, like shoplifting, those can sometimes be tied to need as well. Sometimes it’s not just extra money, it’s a necessity.”

Anderson added that the only way to gain knowledge about the working world is through hands-on practice. Young people can become accustomed to arriving at work on time and getting along well with co-workers.

“It’s important for youth in the community to have jobs because one of the hardest things to learn about having a job is what employers call, ‘soft skills,’ and those are really only taught through experience,” he said.

Job applicants seem to have the same mindset. During the past year , YJC served an increased number of jobless youth, said Amy Nelson, a career advisor at the organization.

Although there is a greater demand for employment, Anderson said getting a job is not a lost cause.

“Even though it’s difficult, it’s not impossible to find a job.”[email protected]

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
New grant to fund youth job center