Evanston aldermen postponed a vote on a $42,000 job training grant for Curt’s Cafe Monday night after two aldermen raised concerns about whether it was fair to other businesses and whether the program was limited to Evanston residents.

The concerns were raised by the council’s newest member Alderman Brian Miller, 9th Ward, and by Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward.

Brian Miller.

Miller said he likes Curt’s but wants to make sure the program follows “best practices.”

Holmes said the city needed to provide the same kind of support to other businesses that hire felons and keep them employed.

But Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said, the program, which is a renewal and expansion of one already underway, has been successful. “Some people in the business community may not be pleased,” Wilson said, “But this enterprise is working with some of the most difficult cases.”

Don Wilson.

The city needs to be supportive of such a program, Wilson said, adding that he “will be very disappointed if we can’t get this going.”

Aloderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, said the residency concerns have been addressed and that city staff is making sure that the program is restricted to Evanston residents.

It appeared that supporters of the program had the votes to approve it, but under council rules, when two aldermen request a delay, the matter is held over until the council’s next meeting, which is scheduled for May 25.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Other businesses

    Will the City be offering similiar job training grants to other businesses in Evanston  that hire felons?

    A some those that do can be found here.

  2. Why is there not consistency?

    Curt's is a noble effort to help those who need support about getting back on track. The question is, however, why is there not consistency in funding support for non-profits across Evanston, ALL of which are businesses. I question the process of Curt's being able to go around the "system" that all other non-profits in the city must go through, i.e. grant application, reports, outcome measures, etc. I support Curt's but I don't support the inconsistency shown by the city in the process for funding and accountability. Non-profits are businesses that provide valuable products for the city and its residents. I also agree that best practices and evidenced based programs should be the standard–not just for some, but for all. Consistency and transparency isn't something that is applied when you feel like it, it is also about consistency or it becomes a quick oxymoron. Stop funding something just because you "like" the idea–ideas aren't always effective until there is evidence or accountability towards consistent outcomes.  If the city adhered to the standards and hoops they want non-profits to jump through then we would all be in a better place.  Non-profits have been given such a nasty reputation by some city staff and alderman–until its something they like or think is good–without any evidence.

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