Fortunately, Chicago had the relationships and infrastructure already in place that made it possible for leaders to respond to this opportunity as thoughtfully and rapidly as they have.
Chicago (Vocus) July 19, 2010
More than 2,000 Chicagoans will receive up to 16 weeks of combined paid work and job training along with case management and intensive support services through Chicago Neighborhood JobStart, which launched in June. The initiative captures millions of federal stimulus dollars temporarily available to states for subsidized employment programs.
A component of the state's effort to combat the economic recession through job creation, JobStart is unique in its focus on hard-to-serve individuals -- low-income, low-skilled job seekers who need additional support to overcome employment barriers and engage in the world of work.
JobStart grantees, selected through a competitive process, are among Chicago’s most experienced and effective transitional jobs providers. Combined, twelve agencies will operate programs for 1,200 young adults and 1,000 adults. Association House, Centers for New Horizons, Central States SER, Chicago Housing Authority, Heartland Human Care Services, Inspiration Corporation, National Able Network, OAI, Inc., Phalanx and the Safer Foundation will operate programs for adults. Alternative Schools Network, Chicago Housing Authority, Phalanx and Westside Health Authority will provide programs for young adults.
“Our clients face a lot of barriers for a lot of reasons. That’s why programs like JobStart are so important,” said Joseph Antolin, executive director of Heartland Human Care Services. “They need help with what many people would consider the basics in order to get up and running -- things like employer expectations, computer skills, time management, dealing with stress or difficult situations. We’re able to give them real work experience and help them build skills and confidence, which will make them more employable now and in the long run.”
JobStart is one of the legacies of the 2016 Fund for Chicago Neighborhoods, a philanthropic collaborative established in 2008 to support the city’s bid for the 2016 Olympic Games and help ensure that neighborhoods most impacted by Olympic plans would benefit regardless of the outcome. JobStart participants will reside in these same priority communities: Douglas, East Garfield Park, Englewood, Grand Boulevard, Kenwood, Lower West Side, North Lawndale, Near South Side, Near West Side, Oakland, South Lawndale, Washington Park and Woodlawn.
The 2016 Fund acted quickly to create JobStart, putting forward $2 million plus in-kind employer donations to leverage more than $18 million through a special Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Fund via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Illinois Department of Human Services.
JobStart is one of few, and perhaps the only, initiative of its kind in the country. While all states have the opportunity to tap a portion of the $5 billion special TANF fund, the Chicago philanthropic community is responsible for spearheading this effort to create a collaborative, multi-sector project that will provide both short- and long-term benefits for low-income people in communities with historically high unemployment rates.
However, unless the deadline is extended, federal funds must be spent by September 30, 2010, presenting a challenge to initiative leaders.
“JobStart’s creation is a small miracle, given the complicated coordination of organizations and funds required in an almost impossibly short timeframe,” said Maria Hibbs, executive director of The Partnership for New Communities, which staffs the 2016 Fund. “Fortunately, Chicago had the relationships and infrastructure already in place that made it possible for leaders to respond to this opportunity as thoughtfully and rapidly as they have.”
Participants employed through JobStart will work in a range of settings and industries, earning between $8.25 and $10.00 per hour. JobStart aims to place at least 60 percent of participants into permanent unsubsidized employment or further training or education following the program.
“For a community to be strong and stable, its residents need to be employed,” said Terry Mazany, President and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust, a founder of the 2016 Fund. “But in many of these communities, high unemployment, even topping 20 percent, has been the norm for years. JobStart will provide immediate relief to job seekers in these neighborhoods as well as position them to become and stay employed in the long-term.”
Contributors to the 2016 Fund for Chicago Neighborhoods include The Boeing Company; The Chicago Community Trust; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Joyce Foundation; McCormick Foundation; Polk Bros. Foundation; Wieboldt Foundation, and one anonymous donor. The Lloyd A. Fry Foundation also contributed to JobStart.
The Partnership for New Communities is a funder collaborative that brings together business, civic and philanthropic leaders to invest in strategic employment and economic development initiatives that promote large-scale improvements in the neighborhoods most affected by public-housing transformation in Chicago. The Partnership pools some funds and administers grantmaking for workforce development initiative Opportunity Chicago, which aims to help 5,000 public-housing residents prepare for and find employment over five years (2006-2010). http://www.thepartnershipfornewcommunities.org
About the 2016 Fund contributors:
The Boeing Company
The Boeing Company is the world's leading aerospace company and the largest manufacturer of commercial jetliners and military aircraft. With customers in more than 90 countries, Boeing is a leading global corporate citizen driving positive change in communities around the world though its community engagement and employee volunteers’ efforts and the way it develops products and services and operates its business. For more information, visit http://www.boeing.com .
The Chicago Community Trust
For 95 years, The Chicago Community Trust, our region’s community foundation, has connected the generosity of donors with community needs by making grants to organizations working to improve metropolitan Chicago. In 2009, the Trust, together with its donors, granted more than $100 million to nonprofit organizations. From strengthening schools to assisting local art programs, from building health centers to helping lives affected by violence, the Trust continues to enhance our region. To learn more, please visit the Trust online at http://www.cct.org .
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
The MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society. For more information, visit http://www.macfound.org .
Based in Chicago, the Joyce Foundation supports efforts to protect the natural environment of the Great Lakes, to reduce poverty and violence in the region, and to ensure that its people have access to good schools, decent jobs, and a diverse and thriving culture. For more information, visit http://www.joycefdn.org .
The McCormick Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to strengthening our nation's civic health by creating educated, informed and engaged citizens. Through its grantmaking programs, Cantigny Park and Golf, and museums, the Foundation helps build citizen leaders and make life better in our communities. The Foundation was established as a charitable trust in 1955, upon the death of Colonel Robert R. McCormick, the longtime editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. The McCormick Foundation is one of the nation's largest charities, with more than $1 billion in assets. For more information, please visit http://www.McCormickFoundation.org .
Polk Bros. Foundation
The Polk Bros. Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for the people of Chicago. The Foundation partners with local not-for-profit organizations that work to reduce the impact of poverty and provide area residents with better access to quality education, preventive health care, and basic human services. Through its grant making, the Polk Bros. Foundation strives to make Chicago a place where all people have the opportunity to reach their full potential. For more information, visit http://www.polkbrosfdn.org .
The Wieboldt Foundation was founded in 1921 by William A. and Anna K. Wieboldt with the hope that its grants would support ''charities designed to put an end to the need for charity.'' Eighty years later, the directors of the foundation remain committed to preserving the founders' charge, now translated into a concentration on grassroots community organizing. For more information, visit http://www.wieboldtfoundation.org .