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‘Cradle to Career’ advocates seek city funding

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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.

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