Teenagers laud summer jobs program

A group of teenagers crowded a City Council committee meeting this week to show support for a governmental employment program.

They appeared as the Cam Herth, manager of the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program, described the project to members of the Human Services Committee Monday night.

Evanston founded SYEP in 1992 to fight violence and crimes among the city’s youth, to help youth obtain jobs in a recession and provide youth activities.

“I remember the pride and joy I received when I got that first paycheck,” former member Charlene Payne said.

The organization hosts an annual job fair every April to help teens ages 14 to 18 find summer jobs.

Herth said 515 teens participated in the fair this year, a 35 percent increase from last year.

About 200 applicants, or 38 percent, were hired — approximately 30 more than last year, he said.

The largest employer is a city-run community service referred casually as the “Green Team.” The 45 members of the team takes community clean-up requests from the city and residents.

“I’m seeing green this summer,” Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, said.

Herth also detailed SYEP’s 50/50 Program, in which the city covers 50 percent of the payroll of youth workers hired by businesses enrolled in the program.

The program is meant to encourage more private businesses to hire Evanston youth, Herth said. Evanston Townshipor covers most of the cost for the program.

“The city is proud of what you guys are doing, and we appreciate your presence here tonight,” Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, said to the crowd of SYEP participants. “You guys aren’t being paid for the rest of the evening, are you?”

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