The Youth Job Center of Evanston has received a $200,000 state grant to upgrade its building and make it more environmentally friendly and energy efficient.

The Youth Job Center of Evanston has received a $200,000 state grant to upgrade its building and make it more environmentally friendly and energy efficient.

The grant will also enable the agency to put more young people to work.

The YJC expects to see substantial cost savings with the new efficiency measures, including an estimated 40 percent savings in electricity and an overall 60 percent savings in heating and cooling at the center, located at 1114 Church St.

These savings will be accomplished through a number of structural enhancements, including upgrades to the electrical and lighting systems, new windows and roofing, and improved insulation of the building envelope, as well as other significant improvements. The YJC is hoping that the new improvements will help qualify the building for eventual LEED certification.

YJC clients will be interviewed and hired in October to begin work on the project.

“This important capital investment will create jobs in our community that will pay dividends for dozens of young Evanston residents,” State Sen. Jeff Schoenberg said in announcing the grant. “The Youth Job Center’s job creation initiative will also ensure that the building renovation will realize significant reductions in energy costs as the result of this comprehensive ‘greening’ process.”

This is the first time in its 26 years of operation that the Youth Job Center has received an appropriation from the state of Illinois.

YJC board president Jim Kauffman said, “This funding comes at a time when youth unemployment is at its highest level in more than 60 years and funding for youth-serving organizations is being drastically reduced. This grant not only provides jobs to young people but also enhances the programs and services of the YJC by making the facility more efficient and effective.”

YJC Executive Director Sacella Smith said, “We’re extremely grateful for this state funding. These will be dollars well spent as the funding provides much-needed jobs for our community’s youth.”

The funding for this grant is from the state capital works program that passed the legislature last month. Schoenberg worked closely with Senate President John Cullerton to ensure that this project was included in the $28 billion plan.

“There are a lot of worthy projects that are receiving funding under the capital plan, but this one is extremely important given our current economic climate,” Schoenberg said. “It is imperative that our youth have adequate resources available to assist with job placement. Making the facility more energy efficient will reduce its environmental impact and establish it as a community leader in environmentally friendly practices. More important, it will save the Youth Job Center a significant amount of money, allowing these savings to be redirected to the youth placement and counseling programs.”

Since 1983, the Youth Job Center has assisted more than 20,000 young job seekers with job placement, employment counseling and ongoing support. The YJC continues to provide quality based programming to the community and expects to serve over 1,400 youth in the next year.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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