County jobs program aims to fight violence

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Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle | Sun-Times file photo

Operating on the principle that young people who aren’t going to school or work every day are up to no good, Cook County officials Wednesday announced a $1 million pilot program to find jobs for at-risk 16- to 24-year-olds in two violence-plagued Chicago neighborhoods.

The pilot program will target 300 teens and twenty-somethings in Austin and Back of the Yards, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said at a news conference Wednesday with board members Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and Richard Boykin.

“They say the best way to stop a bullet is with a job,” Boykin said.

The county’s Justice Advisory Council will work with county workforce, economic development and hospital systems and outside organizations to find jobs and training for the youths in the program, which is set to launch in the summer of 2017. If the program is successful, Preckwinkle said it would be expanded to other areas of the county.

The pilot program will be paid for with money from the county’s public safety grant program.

Younger participants in the program will be steered into career exploration programs; older participants will be connected to training and certification for jobs in “high-growth industries,” Preckwinkle said.

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