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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Evanston center helps teens find jobs

With youth employment in the United States barely surpassing 25 percent for 16- to 19-year-olds, this summer the Youth Job Center of Evanston has kept busy working to employ hundreds of 14- to 25-year olds.

“We definitely have a huge influx, but we try to provide them with as many employment opportunities as possible,” Employer Outreach Coordinator Jordan Burghardt said. “We definitely are still able to find our job-seekers jobs, even in a down economy, and a lot of that is because of our relationship with our employer partners.”

Offering on-site recruitment events at YJC and skills workshops, the organization provides a variety of employment opportunities for Evanston youths, most recently offering a social media workshop last month featuring one of YJC’s employer partners as a speaker.

“We definitely have a really high unemployment rate nationally, but with our employer partnerships and really having proven ourselves as the expert in job readiness in the area, a lot of our employer partners will come to us when they have job openings, so we’ve been doing really well,” Bughardt said.

The YJC recently employed 45 14- to 16-year-olds to work as summer tutors in Evanston/Skokie School District 65.

“Usually summer is our busiest season, so we do have a lot of kids coming by,” said Amanda Pink, marketing/communications and programs assistant. “We try to help them as much as we can.”

This summer, the YJC was also the recipient of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Eliminate the Digital Divide Program grant for $40,000, which it will use to upgrade the computer lab to assist in the job search process, Development Director Kim Hoopingarner said. The new lab will have twice as many computers.

The grant will allow the YJC to open its technology to the public, including adults seeking employment, offering computer literacy classes as well, Hoopingarner said. YJC expects to provide the public with services similar to those offered at the recently closed Illinois Department of Employment Security office in Evanston, which included a one-stop career center,

“We’re hopefully filling that void for people who don’t have access to computers,” Hoopingarner said.

Neither job readiness nor placement can occur without computer knowledge, Hoopingarner said. With 80 percent of the YJC clients living at or below the poverty level, she hopes the new services will assist these community members.

“I’m hoping that it will affect the demographic and that it will lower that ratio,” Hoopingarner said. “Hopefully they’ll become more employed and gain fully employed, living wage employment, and hopefully the number of people living in poverty will decrease.”

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Evanston center helps teens find jobs