Audrey Thompson.

Evanston’s City Council voted 8-0 Monday night to spend $552,500 in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to expand programs designed to address youth violence issues in the city.

The money will expand the “My City, Your City, Our City” initiative, developed by the city’s community services manager, Audrey Thompson, to serve not just youths age 13 to 18, but persons between the ages of 11 and 30 as well as other household members of clients in the program.

It will add a new full-time outreach worker to the existing five-member team.

It will provide a variety of educational programs offering academic, vocational, certificate, entrepreneurship and apprenticeship opportunities.

And it will provide civic engagement opportunities through a youth advisory committee, junior outreach workers and stipends for parents to lead parenting non-violence classes as well as expanding a restorative practices program to include individuals of all agest.

Staff is scheduled to return to Council in the spring to seek funding for a workforce development program for youths most immediately impacted by gun violence.

Mayor Daniel Biss said the stakes in the effort to prevent youth violence “are so incredibly high” that the program “needs every resource at our disposal.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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