A workforce readiness program for young Evanstonians may soon get additional city funding.

Evanston’s Economic Development Committee voted Wednesday night to recommend that City Council spend another $200,000 of American Rescue Plan Act funds to continue the ASPIRE-Evanston Community Healthcare Workforce Development Program.

If the council approves, NorthShore University HealthSystem and the Finnegan Foundation will each match the city support with a $200,000 contribution, for a total of $600,000.

The program began in 2022 when the council allocated an initial $200,000 of ARPA money to match $200,000 of support from NorthShore to create the program.

The program was seen as a good fit for Evanston — it provides Evanston Township High School students who are not college-bound with a solid career path and a well-qualified, reliable pool of workers for NorthShore.

In a memo, Nathan Norman, the city’s workforce development coordinator, said the program is designed to “support the exploration, launch and acceleration of healthcare careers.”

It provides or assists participants with training, internships, certifications, tuition reimbursement and credential attainment. It also provides career fairs and job shadowing opportunities for ETHS juniors and seniors.

The new funding would expand workforce training to young adults in the 18-30 age range who are unemployed or underemployed.

It would also explore “direct hire opportunities” for these older residents who may be seeking to move up the employment ladder.

Samir Desai, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion at NorthShore, said all the program funds would go “directly back to Evanstonians.”

He said 50 Evanstonians participated in the program last year, and that new funding might support up to one hundred community participants.

Desai also said the $600,000 funding total would enable the program to operate for several years.

The program will have to compete for funding with several other ideas as the City Council determines how to spend the last of the more than $41 million in ARPA aid to Evanston.

Desiree Shannon

Desiree Shannon relocated to Evanston in 2022 from Columbus, Ohio. She has a journalism degree from Otterbein College of Ohio. During her undergraduate studies, she completed an internship with the Washington...

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