June 2019 Client of the Month



Age: 22
Position: Kitchen Assistant Intern
Two Sisters Catering
May 2019

Carletta’s love for cooking southern inspired cuisines is why Carletta became a culinary participant at YJC. From February 2019 through May 2019, Carletta attended weekly culinary classes with Chef Q at Evanston Township High School and learned the intricacies of ingredient measurements, event prepping and kitchen sanitation. On May 28, 2019, Carletta successfully fulfilled all the requirements needed to obtain her Fundamentals of Culinary Arts Certificate! Since then, Carletta has successfully been placed as a Kitchen Assistant Intern with Two Sisters Catering and will begin her new culinary journey in the hands of Chef Veah V. Larde. Carletta will be learning about building her own soul food business and how to create southern cuisine in hopes on one day opening her own business. It is with great enthusiasm that we applaud Carletta for never giving up on her dreams.


May 2019 Client of the Month



Age: 24
Position: Prep Cook Intern
Viet Nam Nam
May 2019

Tiffani first came to YJC in January of 2019 and expressed wanting to pursue a career in Culinary. In partnership with YJC and Oakton Community College, Tiffani attended weekly culinary classes with Chef Q at Evanston Township High School from February 2019 through May 2019. On May 28, 2019, Tiffani successfully fulfilled all the requirements needed to obtain her Fundamentals of Culinary Arts Certificate! During that time, Tiffani excelled tremendously and was successfully placed in an internship as a Prep Cook at Viet Nom Nom in Evanston where she received constant mentorship from Alan Moy. Due to her work ethic, culinary skills and passion, Tiffani received a job offer as a permanent full-time Prep Cook at Viet Nom Nom once her internship is completed. Congratulations Tiffani for making your dreams a reality!

April 2019 Client of the Month



Age: 18
Position: Retail Sales Associate
Minouchic Boutique
April 2019

Congratulations to our client of the month, Andika!  Andika is a recent Haitian Immigrant who recently settled in Evanston, IL.  Andika was motivated to intergrate into the Evanston Community and begin employment but she had not yet mastered the English language.  We welcomed her into the YJC house anyway.  We were able to provide a customized training for Andika in her native languages French and Haitian -Creole.  Andika put in extra effort and hours and she graduated from WRT.

Andika expressed an interest in retail, fashion, and customer service.  While crafting her resume, Julia (employer relations manager) focused on her transferrable interpersonal skills which translated to excellent customer service which shines through in any language. Andika, armed with her newly acquired skills and professional resume began her search for employment with her career advisor, Len Felton.  Len worked his resources and was able to secure an internship for Andika with Minouchic Boutique, owned by a longtime Haitian-American Evanston Resident.  Perfect Match!

Andika now welcomes customers into Minouchic Boutique and practices her English skills while assisting customers with purchasing unique outfits.

We couldn’t be more excited for Andika, and more proud of what she has accomplished.  Way to go Andika!


March 2019 Client of the Month

Isabella - high quality.png


Age: 25
Position: Office Manager
Patch Landscaping
April 2019

Isabella came to YJC in October 2018 because she was tired of being overworked and underpaid as a temp. She hoped to find a career path where she could not only support herself and her young son, but she could have personal fulfillment. During career exploration with YJC she discovered that she wanted to pursue a career in office management. Having been motivated by this discovery, Isabella persevered through multiple  barriers until she was successfully placed in an internship at Edgewater Chamber of Commerce. Weeks before the internship was scheduled to end, through hard work and self advocacy, Isabella had successfully networked to get an interview as an office manager at Patch Landscaping in Edgewater. She followed up the interview with a thank you email, and in the response from Patch received a job offer to start the next day. Within a few months, and lots of hard work, Isabella has succeeded in reaching her goal. Congratulations Isabella!


February 2019 Client of the Month

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Position: Facilities Management
March 2019

Congratulations to our client of the month, Briana! Briana is a senior at Wells Community Academy, and although she is very active at her school and has been chosen as a student leader, she was having difficulty finding a job because of her lack of previous job experience. Briana reached out to her career advisor Hester Buell for help finding job openings and showed a lot of initiative in pursuing those opportunities. Her career advisor helped Briana highlight her transferrable skills in her resume and become more confident interviewing. Briana attended as many workshops and hiring events as she could, and even when the job leads didn’t work out, she kept applying and perfecting her interviewing skills. Finally, in February Briana applied to Sodexo’s Facilities Management internship – a paid week-long internship that helps students learn how to oversee corporate workspaces. The interviewers were impressed with Briana’s poise and positive attitude, and they offered her the position! Briana will be working during spring break, and may have the opportunity to continue her work throughout the summer. Sodexo also offers to pay for a degree in Facilities Management to students who complete both the week-long internship and the summer internship. We couldn’t be more excited for Briana, and more proud of all that she’s accomplished! Way to go Briana!

Evanston City Council to Vote on Funding for Career Advising at High School

Read an article about upcoming vote from Evanston City Council to approve grant for new ETHS Career Partnership Manager. To see the full article, please click here.

City hopes to connect more kids with careers

By Bill Smith on March 10, 2019 - 6:22pm

Evanston aldermen are scheduled to vote Monday on a $90,000 grant to the Youth Job Center designed to help more young people who don't complete college find good careers.

Data from the Illinois State Board of Education indicates that 9 percent of Evanston Township High School students drop out or otherwise fail to graduate within four years. Twenty-one percent graduate but don't pursue any further education.

The city says in a memo supporting the grant proposal that an additional 20 to 25 percent of ETHS grads start a higher education program but don't complete it.

That would leave roughly half of the nearly 800 students in each ETHS class successfully completing a college degree program.

By comparison, the Census Bureau estimates that 65 percent of all Evanston residents 25 years of age or older hold at least a bachelor's degree.

Many of the students who don't complete college have difficulty getting established in productive careers.

Under the grant, the YJC would hire a career partnership manager who would:

  • Work with the high school to provide improved career guidance to students who may not be headed to college.

  • Work with employers to improve hiring, onboarding, mentoring and development programs for new employees.

  • Work with the high school to ensure that 100 students per year are successfully placed in such career opportunities.

  • Refer ETHS alumni and young adults up to age 25 to YJC to get career advising and counseling support.

The mayor's Employer Advisory Council, formed last June and chaired by Neil Gambow, has worked with ETHS to develop a three-year strategy to build a bridge between the high school and employment opportunities.

According to the city staff memo, employment partners involved in the effort offer careers in fields including retail, healthcare, manufacturing, design, hospitality, insurance, higher education, sports and recreation, construction, administrative and clerical, and automotive repair and maintenance.

Funding for the grant would come from the annual good neighbor fund contribution provided by Northwestern University.

Ready to Work: Opportunities in Retail for Youth

Members of our program staff and development team partnered with Hope Street Group to produce a blog article about youth employment and the retail sector opportunities. See the original article here.

By Emily Stover, Ted Carroll, NuDonna Williams, and Hester Buell

Flipping hamburgers, folding shirts, ringing up customers, and scooping ice cream. These classic examples may remind you of your first job and the important lessons you carry with you to this day. Despite a recent drop in youth employment, this first job is still an essential part of many students’ learning experiences. A third of American teenagers are working, 30% of high school graduates begin their careers immediately upon graduation, and 77% of part-time college students are also punching the clock¹. A majority of those working are employed in the retail and service sectors, and in 2016 retail alone accounted for 55% of teen employment². So, what can retail and service sector leaders do to help ensure these students and new graduates start their careers off on the right foot?

Many retail and service sector employers recognize the key role they play in student’s development and have even developed specific programs serving this population. For example, Gap Inc.’s This Way Ahead program serves youth in select cities by partnering with local organizations to provide training for in-demand skills, in-store internships, and a mentor. In the greater Chicago area Gap Inc. partnered with Retail Opportunity Network member Youth Job Center (YJC) to offer this training and help area youth advance in their retail careers. YJC is dedicated to addressing the epidemic of Opportunity Youth, or young people who are disconnected from work and school. The Center’s work with young people in high schools, ages 14–18, is meant to serve as a preventative measure to this issue. A large part of YJC’s work is connecting young people to employment experiences while they are still in school, and many of these employment experiences are naturally in the retail and service sectors, where students learn essential soft skills. A positive first employment experience can have a significant impact on a young person’s trajectory, decreasing their chances of experiencing unemployment while increasing their future wage-earning potential.

Through their work, YJC has found employer partnerships to be essential to the process of helping youth kick start their careers. Employers, including YJC’s partners Wintrust and Lettuce Entertain You, are dedicated to helping youth overcome barriers to success and work with YJC to customize trainings to their specific needs as well as working closely with career advisors and clients to better understand the barriers that many employed youth experience. A prime example of this type of collaboration is YJC’s work with Wintrust Bank, which has yielded work-readiness trainings that focus on positive communication skills, basic financial literacy, conflict resolution skills, understanding the workplace culture of a financial institution, and more. This collaboration allows YJC to provide youth with personalized training that improves training effectiveness and provides YJC, the client, and employer the opportunity to address any workplace issues before they reach the point where termination of employment is necessary. This deep level of collaboration and support provides young people with valuable work experience before they ever leave high school, helping them build a foundational set of skills that they can utilize for the rest of their lives.

How has YJC maintained such powerful employer collaborations? Some of their best practices developed over the years include building a strong relationship with employer partners, knowing the employers’ culture, having clear pathways for youth’s growth with the employer, and plugging training programs into existing employer structures such as management training. YJC also invites employers into schools to meet students and help them learn about career pathways and options at school hiring fairs.

Since retail and service sector employers play an outsize role in employing today’s youth and that first job can set an employee along a trajectory towards success, it is essential that students are equipped with the skills they need to thrive in these roles and employers understand the youth they’re hiring. Partnerships between employers and local organizations such as YJC are one great way of ensuring young people are matched with great jobs and employers benefit from great employees. You can learn more about advancing frontline retail and service sector workers by following the Retail Opportunity Network via #RetailOpportunity or #youth #ourfuture.

¹ Bureau of Labor Statistics data, 2017
² “Employment Trends: Teens in Retail”, Allison Zeller, National Retail Federation.

Emily Stover is Hope Street Group’s Manager, Jobs and Economic Opportunity. Follow her via Twitter @EmilyStover34.

Ted Carroll is Youth Job Center’s Manager, Grants and Communications.

NuDonna Williams is Youth Job Center’s In-School Youth Partners Program Manager.

Hester Buell is Youth Job Center’s High School Career Advisor.

Youth Job Center Hosts Lecture with Noted Experts to Discuss Opportunity Youth and Underlying Issues Regarding Youth Development, Work Readiness, and Work Development



CHICAGO (February 22, 2019) – On Thursday, February 21, 2019, Youth Job Center (YJC) hosted an inaugural lecture regarding youth development and post-secondary planning and the underlying causes of youth unemployment. In conjunction with the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois – Chicago and the Early College and Career Office at Chicago Public Schools, YJC convened a panel discussion to reflect on the status of opportunity youth and the challenges and barriers they face in regard to access and equity in post-secondary planning and long-term success.

Our long-term goals and strategic planning include expansion plans for programs and services that have the potential to address the underlying causes of youth unemployment. The panel “Multiple Choice” invited meaningful discussions and thoughtful reflections about how we have reached this point, what we need to do, and how we can collectively impact the future. With an audience composed of legislators, community organizers, nonprofit administrators, industry leaders, employer partners, and committed stakeholders, the forum presented an opportunity to create a plan of action to truly identify and address these societal inequalities that systemically oppress those it seeks to help. Led by Frank Adams, a YJC Board member and Starbucks human resources executive, Dr. Rita Raichoudhuri, Executive Director of Chicago Public Schools’ Office of Early College and Career Education, and Dr. Teresa Cordova, Director of the Great Cities Institute at UIC, the event discussed the significant barriers Opportunity Youth in Chicago experience in relation to employment and career planning and advancement.

The mission of Youth Job Center (YJC) is, “Success for young people, in the workplace and in life.” We envision a future where all young people have the support to build a meaningful career and fulfill their potential, and for the last 35 years have worked to make that vision a reality. 

YJC provides high-quality programs at the intersection of youth development, workforce development, and career planning. We focus on helping clients develop the patience, self-efficacy, and confidence they need to adjust their plans over time. YJC’s work is grounded in experiential learning; it is in the process of seeking and experiencing that clients make good choices toward career success. YJC programs address the challenges youth face in understanding what opportunities exist for them by focusing on the breadth of viable post-secondary options and helping them develop actionable plans for career advancement.

To learn more about the event please click here

Media Contact:

Katy Murphy
Director of Individual Giving
Youth Job Center
1114 Church Street
Evanston, Illinois 60201


January 2019 Client of the Month



Age: 18
Store Associate
TJ Maxx
January 2019

Dayan “Day” reached out to YJC for help because he was overworked and underappreciated by his long-term employer. He knew it was time to leave, but he needed a part-time job to sustain and support himself while working diligently to finish high school. He knew he couldn’t afford a gap in pay and asked YJC’s M. Nelsen to help with the planning and timing of this transition to new employment.

 While working with Day during Work Readiness Training and one-on-one career advising, YJC’s Employer and Partner Relations Manager, Julia Brownfield, & M noticed that Day not only had an excellent work ethic, but he had an aptitude for excellent customer service. M knew that an internship at TjMaxx in Evanston would be the perfect placement for him. Also, knowing that this particular location has had and continues to have higher expectations for whom they offer permanent employment, he began his internship at the end of Nov. 2018. Two weeks following, the general manager of TjMaxx offered Day a permanent position!

Days long-term goal is to work in the IT field, potentially doing Cyber Security. M will continue to support Day as he works toward this goal, first by earning his High School Diploma at an alternative school, then enrolling in Year Up. In the meantime,  Day is enjoying his job  at TJ Maxx and putting smiles on customer’s faces. Keep up the good work Day!