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Evanston Youth and Young Adults Division employees awarded for service

Students+attend+the+2015+mayor%E2%80%99s+annual+youth+summer+job+fair+at+Evanston+Township+High+School.+In+2016%2C+the+Youth+and+Young+Adults+Division+led+the+fair.+
Students attend the 2015 mayor’s annual youth summer job fair at Evanston Township High School. In 2016, the Youth and Young Adults Division led the fair.

Students attend the 2015 mayor’s annual youth summer job fair at Evanston Township High School. In 2016, the Youth and Young Adults Division led the fair.

Source: City of Evanston

Source: City of Evanston

Students attend the 2015 mayor’s annual youth summer job fair at Evanston Township High School. In 2016, the Youth and Young Adults Division led the fair.

Robin Opsahl, City Editor

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Two officials in Evanston’s Youth and Young Adults Division received awards this week from Chicago area organizations for their service to the community.

Kevin Brown, the program manager, and Porschia Davis, the assistant program manager, won awards for their work creating programming for city youth. Brown won the Individual Who Made a Difference award from Family Focus, a Chicago-area nonprofit, and Davis was selected as one of “35 under 35 Young Leaders Making an Impact” by Chicago Scholars, a nonprofit working with students pursuing a college education.

Brown said the division has been receiving attention because it is an effective conduit for the city to connect education, employment and the community in ways that help at-risk youth. He said programs the division leads, such as the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program and Youth Engagement Initiative, are means to achieve what many in both government and the larger community have been working toward for years.

“It’s the community people who identify the particular needs are here,” Brown said. “It’s just our job to create the programming that’s necessary that would carry out the vision of people in the community who wanted to see their children get more help.”

Davis said in a news release that her work in the department allowed her to see positive influence on people she works with directly.

“I am grateful and honored to have the opportunity to work in such a great community … where our efforts truly make an impact on Evanston youth,” Davis said in the release.

The Youth and Young Adults Program was founded four years ago, Brown said, and brought many related initiatives together to form a separate division. After creating a “baseline” of 10 years of work, he said, the division plans to assess the direction their work has taken.

Although the division is relatively new, that should not discount how much the program has been able to accomplish, city manager Wally Bobkiewicz noted, saying that the program’s leaders have “hit their stride.” He said because the program is so oriented toward outreach and crisis management with young people in need in Evanston, its impact is immediate and often life-changing for clients.

“There are so many smart, talented people in Evanston and everywhere, and they’re just not well positioned to make the most of those opportunities,” Bobkiewicz said. “The work that (Davis) and (Brown) and their colleagues have done have helped take people from really challenging circumstances and helped them make the most of their lives.”

One of the division’s largest programs in progress for the near future is the youth employment program, which helps connect high schoolers with local employers.

“That’s something we all hope for, that we’re going to make an impact on people’s lives when we’re working in local government,” Bobkiewicz said “They both really get an opportunity to do that every day.”

Email: robinopsahl2018@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @robinlopsahl

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