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‘Cradle to Career’ back before Council

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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)

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