Youth Job Center secures Chicago grant, provides internship opportunities to Evanston youth

Edward Cox, Reporter

Evanston Youth Job Center has partnered with Oakton Community College to lead job training courses for young people starting in January.

The job center received a $50,000 grant from the Chicago Community Trust in October to offer an automobile maintenance course for young people who are not in school, said Kim Hoopingarner, director of development at the center. The program plans to prepare what Hoopingarner described as  a “vulnerable” population in Evanston for job opportunities in the city.

The initiative, which young adults can access through the job center, will involve training and hands-on work with Evanston-area businesses such as Jiffy Lube and Midas. Courses on car maintenance will be taught at the automotive facility in Evanston Township High School, which is open in the evening.

“I’m hoping it will take young people currently not connected to anything … (and) put them on the path to career success and economic stability,” Hoopingarner said.

Oakton Community College has had an ongoing relationship with the job center because some of its graduates seek jobs in Evanston, Hoopingarner said. Oakton offers courses in Skokie and Des Plaines, but Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl has noted it may be inconvenient for Evanston students to travel outside the city to attend classes.

Oakton professors will not be teaching the automotive repair courses known as the Midas Training Program, Oakton spokesman Steve Repsys said. He did not specify how else Oakton would be involved in the automobile repair program.

“We try to make it as convenient as possible for people in the district to take classes,” Repsys said. “The training will probably help the young adult population … to become more marketable in employment.”

The college partnered with Northwestern by offering English as a Second Language classes at the school in fall 2012, Repsys said. Oakton also offers dual-credit courses at ETHS that aim to help students transition into college, such as Introduction to Public Safety Careers.

ETHS superintendent Eric Witherspoon is the point man for Oakton courses offered in District 202. In addition to ETHS, Oakton offers courses at other high schools in the Evanston area.

The job center, a nonprofit agency at 1114 Church St., partners with the city to offer job training opportunities for Evanston youth. The center offers a “Building Career Pathways to Sustainable Employment” program for young adults who go on to work for employers such as the city.

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled references to Steve Repsys. The Daily regrets the errors.

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