A controversial proposal to fund a new agency to coordinate career education efforts in Evanston is scheduled for a vote by aldermen tonight.

The Cradle to Career initiative has already been approved for funding by the city’s two school districts to the tune of $50,000 each. Eleven non-profit groups focused on children and youth issues have reportedly pledged another $48,000.

And, after Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl appealed to organizers to involve Northwestern University in the effort, NU reportedly has aggreed to provide $25,000 in cash and in-kind data analysis and research support.

In pitching the proposal to aldermen last spring, organizers of the project claimed much of the funding was needed to collect baseline data about how well young people in Evanston are succeeding in achieving educational goals and moving into successful careers.

But Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, said, “We already have robust data sets,” and voiced doubt about the need for so much initial spending to collect data.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, suggested the non-profit groups pushing the initiative should have enough funding to do the data collection work themselves.

And Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, said that beyond its lofty long-term goal of having every young adult in a successful career, it needed to establish some measurable interim goals as well.

The mayor suggested some modifications to the project. In addition to the university’s participation, those included naming an alderman and at least one member of the program’s target population to the group’s steering committee and, to the extent possible, making all data collected public.

The mayor since has named Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, to be on the steering committee.

The proposal before aldermen tonight would authorize spending $50,000 on the project in the first year and makes no commitment to funding beyond that.

At least four aldermen have made supportive comments about the initiative at prior meetings.

Related stories

‘Cradle to Career’ advocates seek city funding (May 17, 2014)

Rocky start at Council for ‘Cradle’ plan (May 20, 2014)

Four aldermen back ‘Cradle to Career’ (June 3, 2014)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Tell me again
    Why can’t District 65 and ETHS work with Northwestern to make this happen?

    Creating yet another nonprofit that needs space and funding from Evanston taxpayers seems foolhardy.

    Don’t the two school districts already have lofty goals for our students, along with the expertise and funding to reach some tangible milestones along the way as well?

    Look at what we know so far: their first order of business is to “study” the issue when the school districts likely possess plenty of information on their students and the organization has set no identifiable milestones to measure success. That tells me that this would wind up being a money pit of pondering and hand wringing with virtually no accountability to taxpayers and no results.

  2. Not Needed

    I don't think we need another organization collecting money to do a job that already belongs to our schools. Both school districts have made questionable contributions to cradle to career. Northwestern threw in 25k (which is next to nothing for them) just to get rid of an annoyance. It is hard to follow why anybody should contribute to an organization that needs to collect data before they can create a plan to act.

    At best cradle to career will provide a list of expensive actions the taxpayers should fund through the city and schools.

    At this time, the city should not kick in any money in the name of the taxpayers. There are more important things to do with that money.

    Waiting for the first idiot to say, "It's for the children",


    1. This already exists …

      It's called the Evanston Mental Health Board which channels city money to support both mental health services and human services through a rigorous grant funding process lead by a 9-member community board. Expanding this board's responsibility seems more appropriate since the infrastructure is already there to do so.

  3. Just what we need

    Just what Evanstonians need – pay more taxes into another one of  the hundreds of non-profits in the city, many of which compete against each other and provide duplicative services.

    How about attracting good jobs to Evanston?. 

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