Evanston increases youth outreach, hosts annual summer youth job fair

Evanston hosted its annual summer youth job fair Saturday at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center as part of ongoing efforts to increase youth outreach.

Source: City of Evanston

Evanston hosted its annual summer youth job fair Saturday at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center as part of ongoing efforts to increase youth outreach.

Oliver Ortega, Reporter

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Evanston hosted its annual s­­­ummer youth job fair Saturday as part of ongoing efforts to increase outreach and provide employment to young people.

More than 300 teens attended the job fair at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center. The event featured about 50 employers offering 260 jobs, 100 more than were offered at last year’s fair, said Kevin Brown, the city’s youth and young adult program manager.

“We’ve definitely been growing in the last few years,” Brown said. “We’ve been doing more effective outreach to employers — even Northwestern has offered positions.”

Participants had to be between the ages of 14 and 18 and enrolled in school. At the fair, they filled out generic applications for the city and attended job-readiness seminars before interviewing with employers, which this year included NU, Best Buy, McGaw YMCA and the city. For the first time since it began in 1992, the job fair is being held on two days, with the second session April 27.

Other outreach efforts by the city include a new summer recreation project, a mentorship program and a summer safety summit.

Nathan Norman, one of the city’s four youth outreach workers, said providing jobs and recreational activities is an effective way to keep teens off the streets during the summer, a time when crime usually spikes.

“During the summer, there’s more people out with idle time on their hands,” Norman said. “These are opportunities to give these kids something to do and not just be idle.”

Aside from summer programs, the city also partnered with the Evanston-based Youth Job Center last year to improve the center’s employment program for residents between the ages of 18 and 26. The Building Career Pathways to Sustainable Employment program provides 15 low-to moderate-income Evanston residents with a job skills course, career-specific training and job placement.

About 250 residents have participated in the initiative since it began three years ago, said Molly Verble, program director at the Youth Job Center. Many of the jobs they obtain are with city departments.

For Cary Smith, the program helped him stay out of trouble and get on the right path, he said. The 24-year-old is one of the participants in the revamped initiative, which landed him a job working in food service sanitation at the city’s Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, 1655 Foster St.

“The program helped me in a bunch of different ways, like getting ready for interviews, even mental preparation,” Smith said. “Now I got a resume to show people I’ve done things and am ready to do more.”

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