Young people on the South Side of Chicago lack the same opportunities as their counterparts in more affluent areas of the city. Jobs in Chicago are heavily concentrated in The Loop – the city’s central financial district – as well as in affluent suburbs in the North and West sides. A recent report found that jobs per community on the North Side range from 10,000 – 30,000 while no community further south than Hyde Park has more than 6,700 jobs. Thirteen South Side communities have fewer than half that number of jobs. OYJC will start young people on a path toward economic success early – training them in essential job skills, giving them early exposure to professional workplaces, and helping them plan for lifelong economic advancement.
In recent years, Urban Alliance has recognized the need to connect with youth earlier in their high school careers as part of a broader strategy to prevent disengagement from successful career or college pathways among communities that lack adequate resources. The most successful programs include paid, work-based learning; mentoring from an adult professional; youth-centered support, and at least one year of follow-up services. Few programs encompass all of these elements – but Urban Alliance provides the full complement.
OYJC will work with businesses throughout Chicago to encourage increased investment in the city’s youth. Increased economic opportunity on the South Side will help lift everyone – ensuring a strong, educated, diverse new generation of workers to fill the jobs of the future. OYJC will complement the jobs coming to the South Side as part of the new Obama Presidential Center by preparing the next generation of local talent to succeed in a 21st century workforce.