A coalition of non-profit groups will ask Evanston aldermen Monday for $50,000 a year to help fund a new entity to track and hopefully improve the career-readiness of the city’s young people.

After 20 months of meetings, the “Cradle to Career” planning committee has come up with a polished 14-page brochure outlining its plan to hire an executive director and a data analyst with a $250,000 annual budget and to create an elaborate structure with a steering commitee, community coalitions and solution design teams.

(Read the brochure online starting at p. 5 of the City Council packet.)

Leaders of the group scheduled to present the plan to aldermen Monday include Seth Green of Youth Organizations Umbrella, Mark Dennis of the McGaw YMCA and Mary Beth Schroeder of the Evanston Community Foundation, which is proposed to become the non-profit fiscal sponsor for the new entity.

The committee’s brochure sets a utopian goal:

“By the age of 23, all Evanston young adults will be leading productive lives, building on the resources, education, and support that they and their families have had to help them grow into resilient, educated, healthy, self-sufficient, and socially responsible adults.”

But it does not offer any specific intermediate goals or deadlines for achieving them.

The brochure indicates the group hopes to hire staff by this fall and then launch a “baseline data analysis.”

Last month the group persuaded the District 65 and District 202 school boards to each contribute $50,000 to fund the program.

Organizers say the inspiration for the Evanston project came from the Strive Partnership, launched in 2006 in the Cincinnati, Ohio, metro area.

The latest annual report from that group indicates that while some of the participating school districts have achieved gains in key metrics since the program began, others have had less success and, on some goals, progress has stalled in the last year.

For example, the percentage of children considered ready for kindergarten in Cincinnati public schools rose from 44 percent to 57 percent from 2005 to 2011, but then fell to 55 percent in 2012, and there is a big gap to close to reach the group’s 75 percent readiness target for 2020.

And the percentage of local students attending the University of Cincinnati who graduate has risen from 47 percent in 2005 to 58 percent in 2012, but still remains far below the 2019 target of 75 percent.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. $150,000 A year.
    Are the Organizations that the three leaders mentioned above stepping forward with an ANNUAL contribution. Why should Taxpayers of Evanston give them $150,000 a year. Do they have any fun raising events planned. Sounds a lot like another Taxpayer funded Program. I Vote NO

  2. Cui bono?
    Looks like another waste. A “coalition” so compelling that it has to triple-dip into taxpayers’ pocket: first through irresponsible school boards and now through municipality itself.

    I don’t see any track record of achieving their stated goal (or even a precise formulation thereof) or any scientific evidence supporting general soundness of their “approach.”

    What is it even supposed to mean to “lead productive lives”? Another populist slogan that has zero meaning once you dig into it?

  3. What!

    What right does any taxpayer funded organization have to redirect dollars to another organization without approval of the taxpayers. This was not part of the school board's pre-approved budget and this is not part of some emergency spending project, i.e. leaky roof.

    I guess our school districts have money to burn and have no use for 50k. Now that we know they are over budgeted and we can cut school funding in future years. Or are the schools saying that they are unable to educate our children and need another organization to help them do their job.

    This sounds like something that should be funded by private donors, and not, public funds. This is not appropiate for public funding.

  4. Supporting our youth and future community
    I am surprised by the comments posted thus far. First, each organization that participates will make annual contributions. The Cradle to Career initiative is then looking for the city to become a partner, as other non-profits have done, as well as the school system. I’m not sure how the school board may have decided to allocate the money, or how school financial decisions are made from a procedural standpoint. I do know that participating to The Cradle to Career initiative is a no-brainer: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This initiative should help to coordinate the existing social service agencies, including public and private entities, and provide data on where the current system is falling short. Then, recommendations and programmatic changes can help to support the communities shortcomings. If we, as a community, could help to ensure that all of our young people were ready to truly enter the workforce as productive members, we would see a reduction in crime and in utilizing the various forms of government assistance while providing the autonomy that defines the American dream. As I said, I am surprised by earlier comments and wish we were all a bit more supportive of tackling such a tough issue with what amounts to very small contributions given the budget of the organizations involved. Helping people while saving a few bucks down the road should be an obvious choice. — A Progressive Man in a Progressive Town

    1. Dear Joe,

      Dear Joe, When you call something a "no-brainer" it only applies to you personally. You made a long posting, but still unable to articulate the exact purpose and methodology of this program. If this is such an obvious slam dunk for you personally, then how much did you personally contribute to the "Cradle"? Because as a "person" myself, I see this quite differently. There're too many "coordinators of the existing blah-blah" as it is. We need more doers. And we need more people who are willing to provide evidence in support of their actions and to be personally accountable. That applies to politicians too. You should try to look a bit further than truisms like "ounce of prevention" – it is more like "what's $150K between friends?"

      1. Dear X.M.,

        You are correct, that my statement of the Cradle to Career initiate as a no-brainer is my opinion, not fact. And you are correct that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is a cliche. The fact of the matter is, however, that prevention efforts are an effective use of taxpayer dollars because they are the less expensive alternatives to intervention/treatment, incarceration, or living through government assistance. Regardless, the Cradle initiative is not fully a prevention effort but will help to empower the non-profits and entities involved to coordinate better and to share information, training, and resources in a way that the prevention and intervention efforts of the community will work in tandem. Hopefully fewer people will fall through the cracks, and more citizens will be empowered to give back to the community through living productive lives. I understand this is lip service, and that my post will not sway any of the skeptics. I personally feel that we are looking at a relatively small amount of money for a step in the right direction, which has a good chance of giving back to the community in a big way. I also agree that we need more doers. Many of the non-profits involved are hiring, and more are accepting volunteers. I do volunteer and I do donate, because actions are far more powerful than words. And I would say either of these posts are of insufficient length to lay out the details, and I don't think I am best suited for the task. Here are a couple useful links:

  5. Nice salaries for the directors

    What these programs do reliably produce is nice salaries for the directors and administration.  Couldn't several non-profit organizations consolidate, reduce administrative salaries and also create something for kids that might have reproduceable results. 

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