Evanston’s Economic Development Committee voted Wednesday night to provide a $21,000 city grant to Curt’s Cafe, a non-profit program that provides job training to young ex-offenders and other troubled youths.
The program, located at 2922 Central St., would receive $3,000 for each of seven Evanston youths who complete the training program and are placed in jobs within 30 days thereafter.
At the request of Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, the terms of the grant were amended to require that the trainees hang onto the jobs they are placed in for a period of time to be specified by city staff — perhaps a month — before the program could collect the city money.
Aldermen on the committee disagreed about how rigid to make the job retention requirement.
Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, said 30 days “seems reasonable” but suggested “pursuing a job” should be sufficient.
Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said that she had five different jobs one summer when she was young, and setting a requirement for how long the program graduates stayed in a particular job might be too restrictive.
And Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, noting that many of the youths involved were likely to be involved in more criminal activity if they didn’t get the training, suggested a flexible approach. “What would have happened to these youths if they hadn’t connected with Curt’s Cafe?” Grover asked.
Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said, “Let’s not forget who this population is. For them to get through the whole training cycle itself is pretty impressive.”
“We should have some other language, that if they’re not placed in jobs, they are continuing to seek employment.,” Holmes said. “Some of them are difficult to place,” she added.
The proposal now goes to the full City Council for action.
Top: An image from the Curt’s Cafe website.