Evanston aldermen are scheduled to vote Monday on a $90,000 grant to the Youth Job Center designed to help more young people who don’t complete college find good careers.

Data from the Illinois State Board of Education indicates that 9 percent of Evanston Township High School students drop out or otherwise fail to graduate within four years. Twenty-one percent graduate but don’t pursue any further education.

The city says in a memo supporting the grant proposal that an additional 20 to 25 percent of ETHS grads start a higher education program but don’t complete it.

That would leave roughly half of the nearly 800 students in each ETHS class successfully completing a college degree program.

By comparison, the Census Bureau estimates that 65 percent of all Evanston residents 25 years of age or older hold at least a bachelor’s degree.

Many of the students who don’t complete college have difficulty getting established in productive careers.

Under the grant, the YJC would hire a career partnership manager who would:

  • Work with the high school to provide improved career guidance to students who may not be headed to college.
  • Work with employers to improve hiring, onboarding, mentoring and development programs for new employees.
  • Work with the high school to ensure that 100 students per year are successfully placed in such career opportunities.
  • Refer ETHS alumni and young adults up to age 25 to YJC to get career advising and counseling support.

The mayor’s Employer Advisory Council, formed last June and chaired by Neil Gambow, has worked with ETHS to develop a three-year strategy to build a bridge between the high school and employment opportunities.

According to the city staff memo, employment partners involved in the effort offer careers in fields including retail, healthcare, manufacturing, design, hospitality, insurance, higher education, sports and recreation, construction, administrative and clerical, and automotive repair and maintenance.

Funding for the grant would come from the annual good neighbor fund contribution provided by Northwestern University.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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