When Youth Organizations Umbrella Executive Director Seth Green opened his mail Tuesday morning, he found confirmation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services of a three-year grant totaling nearly $500,000 to help his organization put a curb on youth violence in Evanston.
It put an official stamp on a tentative announcement made Monday night by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) at a community gathering of Evanstonians to consider ways to rally the community behind efforts to reduce the incidence of youth crime.
Green told Evanston Now that the grant is $166,500 annually for three years and would be shared with the City of Evanston, the Youth Job Center, and the YWCA Evanston/North Shore as the program for “street outreach” is implemented.
The goal of the program, Green said, is “to engage disconnected youth and connect them with mentors, education, and employment, so that they leave the streets and build productive futures.”
The Street Outreach program, he added, will utilize a collaborative, community-based, multi-lingual approach.
“First, we will employ street outreach workers,” he said, “ who will engage runaway, homeless, and disconnected youth in areas of Evanston where they are known to congregate.
“Second, we will meet the immediate needs of these youth, including providing crisis intervention, emergency shelter, domestic violence support, and other services.
“Third, we will provide these youth with educational opportunities, job training, connection to paid employment, counseling, and a wide array of positive youth development activities, including after-school enrichment, summer programs, and mentorship.”
Green said his organization hopes that these activities “will support youth in leaving the streets and building productive futures.”
Evanston organizations with programs for youth have formed an online discussion group called Lan40: Evanston Child and Adolescent Local Area Network.
Its website provides entrees to these organizations for individuals who wish to volunteer to help.