Assuming all of the donations come in, students at Evanston Township High School will be getting a hospital-like training facility where they can learn career skills and earn college credit at the same time, starting some time in 2024.

The ETHS Foundation, the school’s non-profit fundraising arm, is behind the project.

Director Joanne Bertsche tells Evanston Now that the group has raised $700,000 so far, out of the $1.2 million needed.

A rendering of the planned Health Science Center from the EHTS Foundation website.

The Center, Bertsche says, “will be training our students for really awesome jobs, along with stepping stones for health careers.”

The in-school facility will have six hospital beds, along with labs where students will be trained to qualify for certified nursing assistant jobs upon graduation (passing an exam is required for certification. Plus, they’ll also be introduced to other medical job possibilities.

The foundation’s website says the center will “expose students to careers in nursing and medical technology” as part of a “growing and evolving field with endless career opportunities.”

“It will be like walking into a small hospital,” Bertsche says.

Besides job training, students will also be able to take classes where they receive credit from both ETHS and Oakton College.

The ETHS Foundation has raised $11 million over the years for various school improvement projects.

“It’s very rare that a public high school raises money like this,” Bertsche says.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Join the Conversation


  1. When I first saw this headline I thought “wow that’s really exciting”. Earning college credits kind of like AP classes , state of the arts science labs kind of like various biology, chemistry and stem class s , and high skills training for awesome jobs. Then as I scrolled down it became clear that you could take one class sophomore year, another class junior year, and one senior year and pass a test and become a CNA earning $18 an hour. Of course Target pays that plus you have an employee discount. I guess a really awesome job would be in the union trades where you would eventually make $60 an hour. The rebuilding wearhouse offers that right now here in Evanston

    1. Wow, what a sad and negative response to a great opportunity for ETHS students. Not to mention that healthcare workers are needed! This gives students a chance to get this certification without having to enroll/pay post graduation, and be immediately eligible for employment. All great news!

  2. The funding of this program and others should be credited to the hard working, dedicated, actively engaged members of the Evanston Foundation, including, need I mention, my astonishing daughter and ETHS Foundation Board President, Casey Lewis Varela–for whom I am so blessed and proud!

  3. Anyone can get a CNA certification in about six – ten weeks time, the only requirements are generally to be 18, have a GED/HS Diploma, and 9th grade – level reading and math scores. Training can be free via the WIOA Program. It would simply be much cheaper – and quicker – to send HS students to one of the many CNA training providers, at a cost of about $3K. And yes, the pay generally does not exceed $20.00 per hour…

    I agree with you, this program seems to be “aiming low”… from what I see it is just another “jobs program” – like many – that doesn’t provide “much bang for the buck”…

    Instead they might focus on manufacturing skills, such as CNC, welding, press brake, etc… these have much more “career potential” than a basic CNA. People can quickly earn good money, and once in the job, there is much potential for advancement, especially via union apprenticeships and the like. And there is a *huge* need for these workers – I’ve seen many make six figures within two years of starting…

    Link to the WIOA Program, which provides paid training for many careers:

    Gregory Morrow – Evanston 4th Ward resident and WIOA Career Coach

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