Evanston Cradle to Career

The Evanston Cradle to Career initiative is a collective impact effort to mobilize our community assets to make a lasting difference in the lives of our community's children, youth and families.

A broad and deep group of community organizations and individuals have committed themselves to this bold vision.

vision statement

By the age of 23, all Evanston young adults will be leading productive lives, building on the resources, education, and support that they and their families have had to help them grow into resilient, educated, healthy, self-sufficient, and socially responsible adults.

what is collective impact?

Collective impact is an effort to move the needle on a specific but complex community problem. Collective impact initiatives are "long-term commitments by a group of important actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem whose actions are supported by a shared measurement system, mutually reinforcing activities, ongoing communication, and are staffed by an independent backbone organization." Read Collective Impact by John Kania & Mark Kramer, from the Winter 2011 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

equity statement adopted

On November 18, 2016 a new equity statement was adopted by approval of the partnering organizations. The approved equity statement:

Evanston Cradle to Career (EC2C) partners commit to acknowledge, confront, and eradicate the racial, social, and other systemic inequities within their organizations and in the community that undermine access and opportunity for Evanston’s youth, particularly youth of color, to reach their life potential.

Promoting equity is one of the key foundations for all of our collective impact work. Check the calender (on the EC2C website) for all events offered in Evanston and the Northshore that promote education, awareness, reflection, and development in a variety of facets of equity.

ecf's role

ec2c_partner_badge_color_165px.pngBeginning July 1, 2017, Evanston Community Foundation is the fiscal sponsor of Evanston Cradle to Career, as well as a partner organization. The Foundation was an instrumental part of the planning team during 2013 and 2014 and holds a seat on the operating team guiding Evanston Cradle to Career. ECF staff and board members are working on action teams.

United Way distributions

As one of the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago's Neighborhood Networks, Evanston Cradle to Career (EC2C) receives operating support for its work. Beginning in mid-2017, EC2C is also the recipient of United Way funds intended to further advance the systems change work of EC2C's collective impact work. For FY18, $157,000 was made available for systems change efforts by coalitions of EC2C partner organizations. Evanston Community Foundation was asked to develop and manage the guidelines and selection process for these funds.

A committee of Evanston residents reviewed applications with a focus on investing in efforts that address the systems and structures in our community that create barriers to equitable access and opportunities for all children and their families. Five collaborative efforts were selected for funding. Each furthers goals established by EC2C action teams, as detailed the UW EC2C Funded Action Plans chart:

  • Evanston Home Visiting Centralized Intake Study ($11,500). Partners: Childcare Network of Evanston, Family Focus, Evanston/Skokie School District 65, Infant Welfare Society of Evanston.
  • Community Schools ($50,000). Partners: Evanston/Skokie School District 65, Moran Center for Youth Advocacy, Metroplitan Family Services
  • Evanston Fatherhood Initiative planning grant ($16,000). Partners: Infant Welfare Society of Evanston, Family Focus, Evanston Parks and Recreation, Youth Job Center, YWCA Evanston/North Shore.
  • Trauma-Informed Services for Evanston Early Childhood Programs ($50,000). Partners: Evanston/Skokie School District 65, Infant Welfare Society of Evanston,Reba Early Learning, Learning Bridge, Childcare Network of Evanston.
  • Moving the Equity Needle ($31,000). Partners: Evanston Parks and Recreation, Evanston Equity and Empowerment, YWCA Evanston/North Shore

want to get involved?

Individuals and organizations can be part of the Cradle to Career effort in a variety of ways. Contact Cradle to Career's Executive Director, Sheila Merry to find out more:

  • The first Solution Design Team is focusing on Community Literacy. Action teams are working to establish goals, metrics, and initial strategies to address various stages of literacy development, from prenatal care to kindergarten readiness to family literacy and engagement and more. The Action Teams can always use more interested individuals and organizations to move this work forward.
  • Cradle to Career representatives are now actively seeking organizations to join the initiative. Read the Participation Agreement and Board Resolution document. To request a presentation or for other questions about Cradle to Career, contact Executive Director Sheila Merry.
  • A Data Group is focused on determining what data is available and how it can be gathered to create milestones and provide a framework for measurement.
  • A Community Engagement group is focused on reaching out throughout the community to get perspectives on challenges and solutions and get the broadest community involvement in Cradle to Career.

what challenges does this effort address?

The groups and individuals working to develop this initiative have identified the "wicked problem" we face in Evanston —

•Too many young people in Evanston are not realizing their potential in life.

•This is in stark contrast with the richness of resources in Evanston.

•These are issues of racial and social justice, expressed in divisions between families, children and organizations.

•There is frustration about the needle not moving, despite the resources.

•For too long, we have blamed individuals. Now we need to work on systems change.