City Council discusses education initiative partnership, plastic bag ban


(Paige Leskin/The Daily Northwestern)

Seth Green, the executive director of the Youth Organizations Umbrella, presents before City Council on Monday night on the long-term education initiative Cradle to Career. Aldermen voted to move discussion regarding council supporting the effort to the Human Services Committee.

Paige Leskin, Assistant City Editor

Aldermen authorized further discussion Monday night on whether City Council should support a long-term education initiative called Cradle to Career.

Council unanimously voted to send the proposal to the Human Services Committee after more than 45 minutes of discussion regarding the effort. The talk followed a presentation from community leaders on the initiative, the goal of which is to help Evanston young adults “grow into resilient, educated, healthy, self-sufficient, and socially responsible adults” by the age of 23.

(‘Game-changing’ initiative aims to shape entire Evanston community)

“Cradle to Career is our way of trying to coordinate stakeholders to build a greater impact on the issue of human development,” said Seth Green, the executive director of Evanston-based Youth Organizations Umbrella.“It’s using this backbone support organization to really try to realign resources around those goals so that we’re putting our emphasis on strategic interactions.”

The effort relies on a “collective impact” model that aims to mobilize various organizations and entities in order to better serve a common goal.

Green stressed in his presentation the need for the city to partner with the community to more easily achieve the initiative’s goals. A member of Cradle to Career’s planning committee, Green said such a joint effort would help to make the most impact possible in Evanston.

Aldermen raised questions about the effort and asked for clarifications of various aspects of the initiative. Some said the initiative had to better identify the steps needed to reach the goals over many generations.

Alds. Peter Braithwaite (2nd) and Delores Holmes (5th) both said there was a need to establish a specific target group.

“If it’s black, let’s put black in there. … If it’s low income, let’s be clear,” Braithwaite said. “Because if not, then I think the criticism and the concern that I have is exactly who the superpowers are coming together to help.”

There was a feeling by the majority that the data provided by Cradle to Career was not yet sufficient for council to make an informed decision on whether to join the collaboration. Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said council was feeling “out of sync” with the effort.

Among the concerns were voices of support as well. Ald. Mark Tendam (6th) said the effort is different from similar past efforts due to its overarching goal to develop partnerships and cooperation between many Evanston entities.

“This isn’t a group, this is infrastructure for the existing groups,” Tendam said. “This will create those opportunities for the collaborations. It’s going to greatly improve the accountability, so it’s going to help us see how groups are working together.”

Aldermen also discussed a ban on plastic bags, an issue that has resurfaced in Evanston after Chicago City Council approved a partial ban on April 30. Proposals to restrict plastic bags were first brought before council in October 2011, but none were implemented in the end.

(Evanston aldermen to weigh plastic bag ban modeled after Chicago ordinance)

Some aldermen expressed concern the complete elimination of plastic bags would leave some groups at a disadvantage.

After inaction on the issue two and a half years ago, Tendam and Ald. Coleen Burrus (9th) said such discussion regarding plastic bags was more appropriate at this time.

“I’m so glad that City Council’s reconsidering the plastic bag ban that we brought forth (many) years ago,” Burrus said. “I’m actually amazed that many of you are considering it now. … That’s remarkable, the change in attitude.”

A public meeting will be held on the issue June 5.

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