With a new grant, a non-profit organization in Englewood wants to help young people find good careers to support their communities

ENGLEWOOD — A South Side group is using a grant from an international corporation to guide young Black and Latino Chicagoans into high-quality career paths.

Teamwork Englewood—a nonprofit organization that strives to improve the quality of life for neighbors through economic, educational, and social opportunity—received a $75,000 grant from the PepsiCo Pathways to Readiness and Empowerment program. Community organizations across the city received a total of $175,000 from the program.

Cecile DeMello, executive director of Teamwork Englewood, said the grant would support two initiatives: hiring more staff who can facilitate programs for students, and boosting mentoring and post-secondary activities leading to careers. The latter will involve taking Englewood students to PepsiCo offices across town to learn about jobs at the company.

“Young people from Black and Latino communities don’t always have people in their families and in their networks who show different kinds of diverse career paths for our communities,” DeMello said. “This opportunity at Pepsi highlights all of these different career paths within the same industry. And that’s why I really enjoyed this collaboration.

Credit: Supplied/Teamwork Englewood
Students participate in Englewood Bounce, one of three programs offered by Teamwork Englewood.

When Avanii Hazzard, mentorship program coordinator at Teamwork Englewood, asked high school students in her youth program what careers they would like to pursue, the focus was always on the money, she said.

Most Hazzard students already grapple with the responsibility of paying a phone bill or helping around the house, Hazzard said, so becoming a rapper or a movie star, playing basketball or singing all of that had to be had. sense in the grand scheme of a dear life.

But PepsiCo’s funding will prioritize exposing students to careers and internships outside of what they might know, Hazzard said. She and DeMello plan to have instructors visit the youngsters to talk about careers and provide “on-site, hands-on experience” the next day. They also plan to take students on college tours.

And for students balancing bills and books, Teamwork Englewood will provide a stipend to help them stay involved in “positive programming” rather than seek employment that doesn’t support their growth, DeMello said.

Already, students have begun to engage with careers in a wider variety of careers, Hazzard said. High school students from the group’s civic leadership program told Hazzard they are interested in everything from “being an undertaker to engineering, modeling, entrepreneurship and even being an investor, like stocks “, said Hazzard.

“It’s important that we put our young people into sustainable careers and sustainable placements where they can live the life they want to live,” Hazzard said. “They understand now at a young age that you need money to survive.”

Teamwork Englewood has run youth programs in neighborhood schools for years. During the pandemic, he transitioned to hosting myriad programs at Harper High School, 6520 S. Wood St., which was closed by the school district last summer.

But despite its growth, the organization still had to find a way to operate on a “very small structured budget,” DeMello said.

The grant will allow the group to expand operations more quickly and hopefully help other community youth organizations do the same, DeMello said.

“We want our peers in this community to be with us on this journey,” DeMello said. “We know we can’t do everything on our own, so we also hope we can continue to build the capacity of other youth organisations. We want to share best practices, learn from each other and build a network of strong youth providers in the Englewood community.

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