COMM-ORG Papers 2004

Chicagoland Youth and Adult Training Center:
 Building Strong Relationships Between Faith-Based Organizations, Government and Corporations to Transform Low-Income Communities

Evaluation of a faith-based workforce development startup

February, 2004

By Jose Wilson, Consultant, and Brian Banks, Policy Research Action Group


In the Beginning
Role of Partners
CYATC’s Student Perspectives
     What type of impact has CYATC made in your life? 
     What support do you feel is needed to help other current students graduate?
     If you could suggest one thing that would help improve the program, what would it be? 
     How did you hear about the CYATC?
     When you heard about the program, why did you choose to participate?
What motivates you to stay in the program?
     What is your greatest challenge as a student?
     What do you need to help you finish the program?
     What support, do you feel, could have been provided to help keep students who left the program?
     What are your plans after graduation?
     What are you doing now (graduates)?
     What are you doing now (non-graduates)?
About the Authors


President George W. Bush’s faith-based initiative has sparked increased interest in the role faith-based organizations can play in the development of low-income communities. Government is increasingly relying on religious groups to provide economic and moral development in communities, advocates argue, because faith-based organizations are well-organized, well-disciplined groups that know communities.[1] The following report describes Chicagoland Youth and Adult Training Center (CYATC), a three-year-old workforce development initiative created by faith-based organizations located in low-income communities, with Ford Motor Company and its’ Chicago-area dealerships, and local government, and educational institutions. CYATC was started to help employers address their needs for skilled workers and to train at risk youth and adults for high skill/high wage jobs. Since it was started in October 2000, over two hundred youth and adults have enrolled, twenty-nine have graduated, and twenty have been placed in jobs that average $12.50 per hour. Graduates receive four industry-recognized certifications, 20 hours of community college credits, and their GED, ESL education, as needed. Starting wages for CYATC’s graduates were 56% higher than the median wage for comparable non-experienced new hires in the industry.

CYATC provides vocational training, employment placement assistance, life skills training, and mentoring. It is a second chance program that seeks to help at-risk youth and adults become better citizens, parents, and workers by providing them with hope and working to change negative personal behaviors. This 12 month program targets youth and adults that are most at-risk of unemployment, underemployment, poverty, incarceration, substance abuse, dropping out of high school, being victims of violence, and being on public assistance, for lucrative careers as automotive technicians by providing assessments, 1,100 hours of life skills and vocational training, social services, placement, and post-placement support. Journeyman technicians at Chicagoland Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealerships are paid between $42,500 and up to $150,000 as master technicians. The Illinois Department of Employment Security forecasts that the area faces a shortage of 1005 technicians, per year, between 1998 and 2008.

Started during a period when the economy stumbled, employers stopped hiring, and government and foundation budgets shrank, CYATC has grown by casting a wider net for potential partners; understanding and embracing potential partner’s self-interests and engaging local political leadership, from the beginning, in the project.

This purpose of this report is to share lessons learned from this effort.  It seeks to help and encourage more workforce development partnerships, between faith-based organizations (FBOs), community-based organizations (CBOs), businesses, labor unions, government agencies and educational institutions. The first part of this reports describes CYATC in the context of a set principles known as  “job-centered economic development” that have been demonstrated to be particularly effective for helping low-income people access high-skill/high-wage work. The second part of the report discusses how CYATC’s founders turned their vision into an actual program, by building a coalition that included employers, government, community colleges, and faith-based organizations. The final part of the report looks more closely at CYATC from the perspective of the youth and adults it serves.  This report provides information about:

  • “Best practices” in workforce development that lead to placement and advancement of at-risk adults youth and adults in high skill/high wage jobs;
  • Strategies for building workforce development coalitions that include government, business, faith-based, and community-based organizations;
  • The attitudes and aspirations of at-risk youth and adults who participate in workforce development initiatives.
  • CYATC demonstrates that partnerships between employers, government and communities can be organized by faith-based and community-based organizations to address regional skills shortages and the economic development of low-income communities. It demonstrates that focusing on a specific industry sector is an effective way to develop needed relationships with employers and to identify high paying jobs that provide self-sufficiency for at-risk youth and adults. Helping at-risk youth and adults requires more upfront public and private investment, but the return on investment is high for business and the community, as well as for the individual.

    In the Beginning

    Englewood, the southside Chicago community where Chicagoland Youth and Adult Training Center (CYATC) is located, by some counts has over 300 churches. Many blocks have two, three and sometimes four churches. Englewood also has many committed community organizations, community activists, and concerned elected officials. Many of Chicago’s most respected leaders and organizations, including Congressman Bobby Rush; numerous City of Chicago, State of Illinois, and federal agencies; New City Ministers Coalition; various universities; St. Bernard’s Hospital; the Mary McDowell Settlement House; ACORN; the MacArthur Foundation; Chicago Public Schools; and City Colleges of Chicago, are actively working in the community. Despite the often-time heroic efforts of the many faith-based and community-based organizations and various economic development, social capital/civic capacity/asset-based development, and community organizing initiatives in Chicago’s low-income communities, including Englewood, these communities have remained the places in the region where poverty is most concentrated, and the ills associated with poverty are most manifest.

    The consequences of America’s tremendous economic prosperity not trickling down to residents of low-income community residents are devastating. The Englewood Police District recorded 56 murders, the city’s second highest total, just prior to President Bill Clinton’s visit to Englewood with Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Dennis Hastert in 1999. They came Englewood to announce the New Markets Initiative to attract more investment to neighborhoods like Englewood where he noted, "there are people and places untouched by [the nation’s] prosperity.”[2] Almost forty-four percent of Englewood’s and thirty-four percent of New City's residents live below the federal poverty line. There have been many theories--racism, disinvestment, changes in labor markets, globalization, social and economic isolation, and the migration of jobs and middle-class leadership--advanced to explain why low-income communities of color like Englewood and New City remain concentrated in poverty.  But few initiatives have effectively linked these communities to the prospering regional economy, and residents to good jobs, in the region.  It is in this context that CYATC was started in October 2000 to train and place at risk youth and adults for high-skill, high-wage automotive technician jobs.

    Reverend Henry A. Barlow, cofounder of CYATC, Pastor of Christ Tabernacle Church, President of the 45-member New City Ministers Coalition and active in numerous health, theological and educational institutions, got the idea for CYATC when he was funeralizing a young man that had been murdered in the neighborhood. He mentioned his idea to Tom Hawkes, Owner/President of Hawk Lincoln-Mercury. Reverend Barlow and Mr. Hawkes had developed a close relationship over the years as Reverend Barlow bought cars from and referred customers to Mr. Hawkes.

    Mr. Hawkes told Reverend Barlow about a Ford Motor Company supported partnership between one of Ford’s largest dealers and one of the nation’s largest community development corporations that trains at risk youth and adults in Newark, New Jersey.

    New Communities Community Development Corporation and Rich Liebler, a local Ford automobile dealership located in the Newark, New Jersey area, had joined efforts when Mr. Liebler’s son was killed chasing a young man who stole a car from one of his father’s dealerships. As a tribute to his son, the Ford dealer decided to train neighborhood youth for high-wage automotive technician jobs, for which his dealership couldn’t find enough skilled workers, so that they wouldn’t continue stealing his cars. The dealership and New Communities persuaded Ford Motor Company to provide support to their effort. After Mr. Hawkes and Reverend Barlow visited New Communities they decided to open a similar program in Chicago.

    The program they designed provides at no charge to students three to five days a week of technical, remedial academic and soft-skills instruction, at Kennedy King College (KKC), a City Colleges of Chicago facility located in the Englewood community. Students also receive financial assistance for transportation, work clothes, tools and lunch. Emergency assistance is also available for childcare and housing, as needed. CYATC screens applicants to assess their education skills and whether they are using illegal drugs; and provides placement and post-placement support to graduates. Students spend 30% of their time in the classroom and 70% of their time in a shop environment. The shop features automobiles, diagnostic equipment and a customer service area donated by Ford to replicate its’ service repair facilities. 

    The curriculum is a combination of Ford Motor Company’s light maintenance repair, Kennedy-King’s GED and Adult Education, and the Cook County Courts life skills training.  One benefit of locating this program at a community college is students who have not received their high school diploma or GED, or need English as a Second language training or other Adult Education instruction can attend these classes at KKC. The vocational curriculum is designed to provide successful graduates 40% of the knowledge required by a master mechanic. Successful completion of the program leads to industry-recognized certifications by Ford Motor Company in Electrical Systems; Steering Suspension and Alignment Systems; Automotive Brakes; Air Management Control Systems; and Refrigeration and Heating Systems. Graduates are prepared to start as apprentice technicians.

    Because technicians work with customers and dealers spend $50,000 to $100,000 on each apprentice’s training, dealers are very interested in finding entry-level workers that are dependable, reliable, have the ability to continually learn, can communicate, and can utilize new technology.  Metro Chicago Lincoln/Mercury Dealers Association members and other automotive aftermarket suppliers such as Pep Boys, Jiffy Lube, and Sears have found many job applicants lack the appropriate soft skills, job experience and technology skills needed by entry-level workers. Despite high wages and the availability of jobs, most employers (71%) in the Chicago area report having difficulty finding experienced applicants. Employers list job skills (49%), personal motivation (21%), and occupational certification (12%) as the main requirements for this job. Most employers (59%) are willing to hire ex-offenders. The most common hire method used is referrals/word of mouth.[3] To address these concerns, CYATC provides one hour of life skills training daily utilizing a curriculum designed by the Cook County Court System to help at risk youth and adults develop cognitive skills, time management and study skills; personal grooming and money management skills, and interpersonal skills to work with supervisors, customers and other employees.

    CYATC’s instructors and staff act as mentors and career councilors as well as teachers. The two instructors that provide the vocational instruction have extensive industry experience and contacts, which they utilize for the benefit of CYATC’s students. The two life skills instructors are also parole officers for the County Court system and use a curriculum developed by the courts to help participants develop soft skills necessary to be successful in the workplace. 

    Ford, in addition to providing the vocational curriculum, also provided public relations support and over  $1 million in equipment and other funding. The Metro Chicago Lincoln/Mercury Dealers Association members also provide onsite training, management support, and part-time and full-time jobs.

    CYATC’s goal is to provide the student with the practical knowledge and skill competencies to obtain an entry-level position in the automotive service industry. The students receive a strong foundation of workplace skills that employers want. Students train on Ford products; however, graduates could find employment in many types of automotive service companies. After placement, CYATC students receive 2-5 years experience and additional employer provided training and are eligible for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification as a master mechanic, a position which pays up to $150,000 for technicians under Ford’s current union contract.

    CYATC’s design is consistent with a category of workforce development practices known as “job-centered economic development.” Research regarding groups using this approach finds that these programs focus on good jobs as an outcome for low-income communities and take advantage of  demand side economic development strategies.[4] These programs make  “…job connections between low-income people and family-supporting jobs, engaged employers and communities in novel ways, and employed educational practices that were contextual, self-paced, and accessible. Their results were better than those of most employment and training programs and showed poverty alleviation effects.”[5]

    CYATC, like other job-centered economic development projects, is market oriented.  It engaged employers from the beginning in the design of training.  It is highly networked or embedded in communities and local economies.  It targets specific groups of job seekers, occupations, and employers by developing deep knowledge about sectors, niches in the economy with shared products and processes, and is becoming a valued player among firms within the targeted sectors.  It is regional, extending beyond neighborhood and relate to the regional economy while not leaving behind their important ties to place; and it is looking to reform how labor markets function for low-income communities.[6]

    CYATC’s founders' knowledge and relationships in the auto repair industry made them aware that skills shortages and wages were increasing in this industry. According to the 2003 Occupational Outlook, “There are more computers aboard a car today than aboard the first spacecraft…Therefore, knowledge of electronics and computers has grown increasingly important for service technicians…Job opportunities in these occupations are expected to be very good for persons who complete an automotive training program.” The Chicago area is facing a shortage of 1005 automotive repair technicians annually.[7] Between 1998 and 2008 the number of these positions are projected to grow by more than 20%, automotive technicians rank among the top 25% fastest growing occupations and top 10% in job openings, in the area.[8]

    Automobile dealers and automobile manufacturers in the late 1990’s were very concerned about business they were losing because of a shortage of skilled auto technicians and competition from aftermarket competitors such as Jiffy Lube, Sears, etc. Despite union wages of $42,500 to $150,000 per year in Chicago-area Ford and Lincoln-Mercury dealerships , the area faced a shortage of 1,000 technicians each year between 1998 and 2008.[9] Wages for automotive technicians in the Chicago area are relatively high. New hires wages (see table 1) escalate quickly, as they gain experience.  At the same time, unemployment rates in New City and Englewood were 47.5% and 155% higher than the average unemployment rates for Chicago communities. Residents of these communities needed good jobs, but they lacked the required skills to access high paying automotive technician jobs and they often faced other barriers to employment including transportation, substance abuse and criminal histories.

     Table 1: New Hire Wages in Automotive Repair Industry (Source: City of Chicago)
      Average Median High
    Non-experienced $8.54 $8.00 $15.00
    Experienced $13.55 $13.00 $30.00

    Residents of Englewood, New City and other low-income communities face multiple barriers to employment as automotive technicians. These barriers include lack of access to the networks employers use to recruit entry-level workers, transportation, substance abuse problems, criminal histories, driver’s licenses, and bonding.  Most of Ford’s and other automotive dealerships in the Chicago region are not located near low-income communities. Dealers open their repair facilities early and late for the convenience of customers. Public transportation to dealerships during these hours is often difficult, not dependable, and very expensive. Automotive technicians, because they are required to drive customers automobiles to fix problems, need valid driver's licenses and be bondable. Many at risk youth and adults face have problems obtaining drivers licenses and bonding because of previous offenses.

    Role of Partners

    CYATC’s founders have attracted over $1 million since October 2000 to help at-risk youth and adults become more self-sufficient by building a coalition that includes business, government and faith based organizations. They built the coalition by understanding and embracing the various interests of potential partners, delivering tangible benefits, providing an inclusive vision, and focusing on doable tasks. Early engagement of political leadership has increased the likelihood CYATC will be able to overcome the major challenge facing it and similar workforce development efforts--- replicating and increasing in scale.

    The relationship between CYATC’s founders Reverend Barlow and Mr. Hawkes is the engine that drives CYATC. Reverend Barlow and Mr. Hawkes decided the best way to address the skill shortages faced by employers and to overcome the employment barriers at risk youth faced was to build a workforce development program that focuses on the needs of employers as well as those of at risk youth and adults. Based on their career experiences and knowledge of the automotive repair industry they began recruiting partners by articulating a vision that emphasized how the project could help employers and government, as well as at risk youth and adults. Engaging employers and government agencies early on increased the willingness of these key stakeholders to employ CYATC graduates and to invest enough to grow and replicate CYATC.

    Mr. Hawkes, prior to opening Hawk Lincoln-Mercury, was a long-time Ford Motor Company executive and President of Budget Rent-a-Car. One of the major problems faced in the late 1990’s by he and other Ford dealers, who were mainly located in affluent suburban Chicago communities, was a shortage of skilled automotive repair technicians.  Reverend Barlow, who also had extensive experience in the automotive repair industry, understood that this shortage of skilled workers presented an opportunity for at risk youth and adults, who typically resided in the region’s least affluent communities. Even though Mr. Hawkes is a Ford Lincoln Mercury dealer, and his request for Ford’s support for CYATC carried a lot of weight within the Ford Motor Company, both he and Reverend Barlow realized they needed other partners.

    Based on their careers as an auto dealer and a preacher, both understood the importance of understanding and embracing the various interests of potential partners, delivering tangible benefits, providing an inclusive vision, and focusing on doable tasks.

    Following CYATC’s founders' visit to New Communities, Ford Motor Company identified two issues that CYATC needed to address to gain its support. Ford was willing to provide the vocational curriculum, instructor training and over $1 million in-kind equipment and cash contributions for this project if CYATC’s founders were able to identify other local partners who would provide the program support and a facility where the training would take place. To address these concerns Reverend Barlow and Mr. Hawkes recruited the City of Chicago; Kennedy-King College and the Cook County Courts. Kennedy-King was asked to provide the facility where training would be done, the City of Chicago was asked to provide funding for training and the Courts was asked to provide a life skills curriculum and instructors.

    Locating CYATC at Kennedy-King Community College (KKC) in Englewood had several advantages for Kennedy-King College and the City Colleges of Chicago. First it generated additional students and positive attention. Kennedy-King College, which was on the verge of closing its automotive program,  has had more than 200 students enrolled in CYATC’s 12-month training program since October 2000. Twenty-nine students have graduated, twenty have been placed in employment, and thirteen have been retained in continuous employment for more than 30 days. Their average initial wage was $12.50/hour.  KKC also had a “state of the art” automotive repair facility and equipment built and donated by Ford Motor Company that is designed to replicate a dealer’s service repair facility. The two master technicians instructors, recruited by CYATC, each with over 20 years of industry experience and specialized training from Ford, share their expertise with other KKC instructors and students. Michael Jordan, then President of Ford Motor Company Sales and Mr. Hawkes, cofounder of CYATC , in a November, 2000 newspaper article described CYATC’s opening as a win-win proposition,  because, “Kennedy‑King gets state‑of‑the‑art technology, and our Lincoln‑ Mercury dealers in the Chicago area get a steady stream of well‑ trained prospective employees to meet the demand for entry‑level service technicians,” [Michael] Jordan said. Tom Hawkes, a co‑founder of the program and president of Hawk Lincoln‑Mercury in Oak Lawn, said, “We’re trying to give these young people the opportunity to have a career‑not just a job.”

    CYATC provided an opportunity for the Cook County Court System to increase the utilization of their life skills (soft skills) training. 

    The Chicago Lincoln Mercury Dealership Association and the Automobile Mechanics Local No. 701 have signed letters of support for CYATC, that state in part: “…Based on the need for qualified automotive technicians, the use of an industry developed curriculum as well as Ford Motor Company’s ongoing and future commitment and continuing involvement, we expect CYATC will produce qualified apprentice technicians who can be employed in our dealerships.”

    Engaging employers is a key goal of the Workforce Investment Act, the nation’s primary funding source for workforce development and job training. CYATC, because it bought employers to the table, received very positive responses from local and state government funders.

    Early engagement of political leadership has increased the likelihood CYATC will be able to overcome the major challenge facing it and similar workforce development efforts--- replicating and increasing in scale.

    CYATC’s Student Perspectives

    Since CYATC started in October 2000, over two hundred at-risk youth and adults have enrolled, twenty-nine graduated, and twenty have been placed in jobs that average $12.50 per hour. Graduates receive four industry-recognized certifications, 21 hours of community college credits, and their GED, ESL education, as needed. Starting wages for CYATC’s graduates were 56% higher than the median wage for comparable non-experienced new hires, in the industry. Students identify vocational training, employment placement assistance, life skills training and mentoring by the staff as benefits of participating in CYATC’s main benefits. They talk about how being given a second chance is helping them become better citizens, parents and workers; has given them prestige and hope; and is leading to changes in some negative personal behaviors.   CYATC’s students say the benefits of CYATC go beyond the training and employment, they received. Life skills training and mentoring by the staff has increased their confidence, and provided them access to practical career guidance, they badly need. Although not every student has become an automotive technician, both graduates and non-graduates report CYATC helped them become better citizens, parents and community residents.

    Ex-offenders need more than jobs, they need an opportunity to get their lives together.

    The next part of this report is based on interviews of 16 active and 6 inactive students (four graduates and two who were terminated).   The average age of the participants was 23.  All but three were males and the average length of time each student had been in the program was 8 months.   Overwhelmingly, the students felt extremely positive about their experience with the program. Regardless of how they left the program, as a graduate or if terminated, the program appears to have made a lasting impact.  For example, one active student said, “since beginning the program, I receive a lot more respect from family and friends and it makes me feel motivated, and it’s helped me to move on.” One of the students who left for cause had this to say, “the program helped me to get up, stop making excuses and helped me know what it feels like to get up and go to work.  I also learned how to change rotors and use it in our family business.”   All other comments are listed later in this report.

    Two graduates were so inspired by CYATC they used their new skills to purchase a gas station in Miami, Florida, in September 2003. When the consultant interviewed these two cousins, they were very clear about how the program helped prepare them for their entrepreneurial venture.  Both were extremely grateful for the instructors and staff.  Although each graduating student will not open a gas station, this story is a true testimony depicting the enormous benefit the CYATC has had and can have in the lives of those needing a second chance and support to turn their lives around.

    The overall advantage of the program and its impact on participants was summed up best by a current student who said, “it’s not only automotives, life skills [referring to the daily life skill sessions held throughout the week] have been very helpful and I’m incorporating these skills in real life.”   All students interviewed said they have and felt comfortable recommending the program to other because of the impact it had on their lives.  

    Participation in the program, in addition to leading to employment, increased the respect participants felt they received from peers and family.  The life-skills training is incorporated by the students and leads to changes in behavior, including substance abuse and criminal behavior.

    What type of impact has CYATC made in your life? 

    In this section, student’s responses are listed separately so that the reader can gain each person’s perspective.  At the end of each statement, a (G) represents a graduate and (T) denotes those terminated.  If no letter follows a statement, then this was/is a current student at the time of this interview. 

    ∙ “Feel like I have a purpose, I’m proud, gave me a direction. . . I am very happy to be a part of a big company (Ford) . . . never been a part of something positive. . .”

    ∙ “A lot of people look up to me. . . pressure. “

    ∙ “Finally got a chance to break free from her (a “superstar” girlfriend in Atlanta, GA) do his own thing.”

    ∙ “Been getting me up . . . giving him something to look forward to . . . making betting decision . . . becoming more responsible. . .”

    ∙ “Changed my life around . . . stop smoking marijuana . . . I see straight now . . . lifted a cloud . . . it’s great . . . especially life skills.”

    ∙ “Friday talks with Rev. Barlow makes me look at life differently . . . I find I share what he said with other people.”

    ∙ “A lot more respect from family and friends . . . makes me feel motivated help me move on.”

    ∙ “Had lots of little problems . . . showed us a lot of better ways to do things.”

    ∙ “When I started, I really didn’t know what I was good at.  Mr. Foster helped her get through challenges. . . I know I can do it now.  I have pride in myself . . . especially when I finish the job.”

    ∙ “When I first started, drug free, stopped smoking, watch what you eat . . . working out more . . . Mr. Hall said you have to be in shape.”

    ∙ “Has shown me a little was not thinking about school, pulled mind back on school.”

    ∙ “Make me feel good to have people trust him to fix their cars . . . feel more confident because he has gone through the learning in class . . .”

    ∙ “Helped get me back focused on school. . . I don’t know how I would have been able to do it otherwise.”

    ∙ “Not only just automotives, life skills have been very helpful incorporating these skills in real life.”

    ∙ “Changed the way I look at everything. . . I have a trade . . . learn how to get up . . . transferring knowledge to change outlook. . .”

    ∙ “When I came I knew a little. . .  now I know much more. . . made me think more, life skills, other making it.”

    ∙ “Instructors taught me the language to speak with customers . . . to become more professional.  In addition, life skills taught me how to deal with my anger and how to deal with the boss. . . Rev. Barlow motivational speeches were very helpful (G).”

    ∙ “I am able to do a lot of male dominated things.  I can do anything males can do without losing my femininity. . I can do anything regardless of what it is or what the surroundings is (G).”

    ∙ “It's a good one . . . got good skills (G).”

    ∙ “Got me back in school . . . I’m now at Kennedy King (T).”

    ∙ “Helped me to get up . . . stop making excuses . . . and helped me know what it feels like to get up and go to work.  I also learned how to change rotors and use it in our family business (T).”

    At risk youth and adults have various reasons for participating in workforce development programs, such as CYATC. The most important predictor of success in CYATC is a student’s interest in working with cars.

    What support do you feel is needed to help other current students graduate? 

    Four participants felt the current students did not need any additional support beyond what was being offered.   This group had no real insight into support others may need because they felt a person would have to have a strong mind and want to participate in CYACT. Two felt current students may need financial support to help complete the program.  Nine had suggestions that ranged from the students needing to stay focused and make something out of this experience to more hands on training, counseling, paying attention, studying more, support from home and more support from other students.  One student felt he just needed a driver’s license.

    A few quotes from the students 

    ∙ “Counseling may help.  This must be something you really want to do.”

    ∙ “They need to just buckle down and do what it takes . . . make no excuses.  It takes time for good things to happen.”

    ∙ “Need more life skills training if they are found dirty. . . and someone to talk with them. . . someone who has been there.”  (G)

    ∙ “Students need to be dedicated and stay focus.” (G)

    If you could suggest one thing that would help improve the program, what would it be? 

    Five people felt the program was fine just the way it is. Four students felt that the program should provide more options for individuals who are found dirty during drug tests.  Four members felt they would benefit from internships during the year and sure job placements after the program1 ends. Three participants felt more hands on training would be useful. Others felt less pressure from staff may be helpful; talk about more issues influencing students from home in life skills; and adding an additional day of school.

    A few quotes from the students 

    ∙ More options for them (students found dirty) . . . at beginning be honest about what the program offers as far as jobs that pay $41,000.00. . . this is not the case. .

     .  Some people may leave because of this. . . I have the big picture . . . Need more time to learn the skills. . Three days a week is not enough.

    ∙ Give people a chance to pass drug test. . . knew the person was on drug.  They should drop them immediately and not later in the program . . . that’s not fair.  Have a drug counselor assigned to work with students early and throughout the program. 

    ∙ More job offers . . . internships for students.  ∙ Work on internships, porters, exposure . . . more field trips . . . auto shows.

    ∙ Extra day . . . three days is not enough  . . . five days will help get you ready. 

    ∙ More hands on training. ∙ An understanding of fuel and immersions, drivability concerns . . . ∙ More even distribution of theory and hands on . . . have had more theory than hands on but it’s beginning to change.

    How did you hear about the CYATC?

    A family member, friend or a concerned adult referred all 22 current and former students. 

    A few quotes from the students 

    ∙ “My mom informed me once she received an email from my uncle. . . this is my favorite uncle. . . I was just released from being incarceration.”

    ∙ “A friend at a barber shop in his 30’s inform me.”

    ∙ “A friend . . . probation officer mentioned it to me.”

    ∙ “I was taking class at Kennedy King and Mr. Foster [a current CYACT instructor] recruited me.”

    ∙ “A Male from my church told me about the program.” (T)

    When you heard about the program, why did you choose to participate? 

    Overall, the students mention many reasons why they chose to participate in the program after introduction.  Six joined because it was free.  Eight acknowledged having some mechanical experience or desire to do this type work. Five cited other reasons such as it was something extra (a new skill) to do, to giving them more options in life as far as work experience.

    A few quotes from the students

    ∙ “He [Rev. Barlow] told me that it was a second chance program. . . like working with cars.”

    ∙ “It was a good opportunity . . . free chance.  I gave up smoking to participate”

    ∙ “I was doing nothing with my life at the time.”

    ∙ “I was trying to have a plan A, B, C, to take care of my family.”

    What motivates you to stay in the program?

    Eight students were motivated to stay in the program by someone else such as a parent, uncle, Mr. Hall, Foster or Rev. Barlow.  Eight participants were motivated to stay because it was something they wanted to do; a new experience and it is taking their learning to the next level.  The remaining stayed because either they did not like quitting something when started or they were personally motivated to complete the program because they saw it as an investment in them.

    A few quotes from the students

    ∙ “Because I liked it . . . wanted to finish something she started” (G)

    ∙ “I need to stay focus and make something out of my life.  I have two sons and must do better for my kids.”

    ∙ “I wanting to learn more . . . instructors make it interesting . . . feel like you can do it.”

    ∙ “It’s become interesting . . . there’s a need for young apprentice in automotives.”

    What is your greatest challenge as a student?

    Five  people cited finances as a major challenge with them staying in the program. Ten cited other issues requiring coping mechanisms such as making the adjustment to being in a structured environment, balancing home and school, dealing with death in the family, keeping self motivated, and transitioning from high school to this program. One student said that hitting the books was a major challenge and another cited being the only girl in class and being on time.

    A few quotes from the students

    ∙ “I’m trying to figure out how to get $41.00 per week for transportation.”

    ∙ “The whole thing is testing patience . . . see myself finishing . . . this is new to me. . pressed at work and home.”

    ∙ “Being on time . . . transition from high school got to be her in HS I didn’t go sometimes.”

    ∙ “Being the only girl because the guys thought I could not do it. Now, they started asking me for help.” 

    What do you need to help you finish the program?

    Ten students felt they were receiving support from staff and felt good about their chances of graduating.  2 felt it was important for them to know that the agency [CYATC] will follow through on what they perceive as a promise to find them employment after the program was over. Four students wanted more training in drivability and engine performance.  The remaining participants desired time to themselves and to finish personal projects they started prior to beginning the program. 

    A few quotes from the students

    ∙ “I need a driver’s license because I have a car and can’t drive.”

    ∙ “A little kick in the butt . . . Rev. does that every now and then.”

    ∙ “My mind is made up . . . I’m going to finish.”

    ∙ “I was ready to change before coming to the program. . . I will finish.”

    What support, do you feel, could have been provided to help keep students who left the program?

    Nine participants felt strongly that the students who left the program “brought it on themselves” and/or there was nothing anyone could have done to keep them in the program.  Six felt that something could have been done  for the students who were kicked out because of drug problems, such as counseling, developing a stronger personal relationship with struggling individuals, going over the drug policy earlier, and provid a second chance.  The remaining students offered no suggestions. 

    A few quotes from the students

    ∙ “No support, brought it on themselves . . . the best in the glass is gone because of drugs. . . maybe some incentives to stay clean.” 

    ∙ “Come light on the weed . . . they lost some good students because of this . . . when students call in, tell them that it’s a drug free program.”

    ∙ Sit down to pull those students to the side, develop personal relationships, making a link with them . . . students was probably forced to be here. . . I chose to come.

    ∙ “Most people just didn’t feel the program was not for them. . . other fail the drug test. . . counseling for those who use drugs and was kicked out because of it.”

    What are your plans after graduation?

    Twelve students have aspirations to work in the field of automotive or continue schooling in this area.  Four students felt they would be doing something other than automotives such as finishing law school, going to school [working on a different trade], computer programming and moving out of the city to Memphis, TN or Dallas, TX with no specific goal in mind.

    A few quotes from students

    ∙ “Join the ASSET (??) Program . . . go to school and work . . . become a master technician.” 

    ∙ “I plan to work in a dealership as an automotive technician.”

    ∙ “Get grant for CDL . . . go into real estate . . . see how to fit automotives . . . need money coming in $35 - $40’s . . . porter is fine getting married in a month. . . I have financial responsibility.”

    ∙ “Have my own business in automotives.”

    What are you doing now (graduates)?

    Of the students interviewed, half were working in automotives and half are working outside of the filed. 

    A few quotes from the students

    ∙ “I am working at Popeye’s and looking for a job in automotives. . .  thinking about joining the Marines and working in automotives their.”

    ∙ “I am working at the House of Kicks doing janitorial work since February 03.”

    ∙ “Has gas station in Miami, Florida . . . moving soon.”

    ∙ “Has gas station in Miami, Florida.”

    What are you doing now (non-graduates)?

                One of the students who graduated is working in the family transportation business and the other is in school at Kennedy King College.

    Comments from students:

    ∙ You cannot make $41,000.00 when you complete the program. . . more like $6 - $9 per hour.   Life skill is a big deal. . . help to deal with thing more positively. . . Eric and Brian do a great job.  Life skills let you get out stuff (lip box it out) and show the right way to handle it. . . also, Ms. Cassandra is a part of the program, she keeps us grounded.

    ∙ “I though they would provide a job placement after six months. . but they were told that they have to find the job themselves . . . not happening.  I wish they change the internship thing.”

    ∙ “Have courage to take control of future destiny.”

    ∙ “I hope nothing happens to the program . . . good program.”

    ∙ “The instructors are good and Rev. Barlow . . . he keeps you focused.”

    ∙ “She has a couple of mentors, have someone to speak with . . . to Rev. Barlow . . . he’s a good mentor.”

    ∙ “Mr. Foster stays sometimes until 9:00 p.m. very helpful.”

    ∙ “It’s a good program . . . it changed me.   If it can change me it can help anyone.”

    ∙ “This program motivates you . . . gets you ready for the world.”

    ∙ “I wish they had a night class to attract more people.  I would recommend the program because I come from Harvey and people look up to me.”

    ∙ “This program give you an idea of what is happening in the market. . . like to see more in the curriculum on drivability and engine performance.”

    ∙ “This program is a good opportunity to learn.”

    ∙ “I hope the program will continue . . . it’s good for someone who wants a second chance.”

    ∙ “Can have two classes for the year . . . have Mr. Hall and Foster teach one at a time.”

    ∙ “This program is for anyone who applies themselves; you can work on jobs in garage . . . a good side hustle.”

     ∙ “It’s a great program . . . getting life skills and learning how to work with people in general.” 

    ∙ “I would refer the program because it is a good program . . . good for a trade.” (G)

    ∙ “It’s really a good program . . . you make it what you want it to be.” (G)

    ∙ “It's a good program. . . moving to Miami, Fl next month . . . opened a gas station he and cousin.  We couldn't find a job so we decided to open a business.” (G) 

    ∙ “The program is great for someone to come and try to change their life.” (T)

    ∙ “No. This program was not for me.  I came back to help Rev. Barlow.” (T)

    Table 2: Chart of CYATC services and Role of Partners

    Service Component Location Method Responsible Partner
    Recruitment/orientation Through IETCs (1 Stops), Cook County Courts, CBOs and Faith-Based Orgs. Media, Letters, Presentations, word of mouth New City Ministers Coalition (NCMC)
    GED Kennedy King College (KKC) Customized for individual student/computer based Kennedy King College
    Technical Training KKC/Metro Dealers Contextual curriculum provides classroom and shop training for industry certification in electrical; temperature control; alignment, suspension and steering; and brakes KKC/Ford/Metro Dealers
    Life Skills Training KKC ABC curriculum facilitates self assessments; provides career orientation; mock interviews and resume preparation NCMC/Cook County Courts Life Skills instructors using curriculum developed by the Cook County Court system.
    Case management, transportation, and job placement Various Customized NCMC/ PACE Transit/  Metro Chicago Area Lincoln/Mercury Dealers
    Employer Intermediary CYATC Provides/solicits employer feedback; recruits new employers Rev. Henry Barlow, Executive Director, CYATC/ Tom Hawkes, Owner Hawkes Lincoln/Mercury

    Table 3: Student’s Perspective of CYATC Services and Timelines

    Summary Chart for Students  Participating In Survey

    Students (current and former) were asked 10 questions designed primarily to determine program impact. 

    Table 2: Student Survey

    Total Number of students interviewed






    Average Age


    Average Time in program

    8 months

    Current Students







    [1] Cheryl Cornelius, executive director of the Chicago-based Christian Community Development Association, a coalition of more than 600 faith-based groups worldwide that are doing community development in Dumke, Mick, “Prophets or Puppets: Mayor Daley and Black Church”, Chicago Reporter, September, 2000

    [2] (

    [3] City of Chicago, Survey of 80 employers

    [4] Giloth, Robert P. “Jobs and Economic Development: Strategies and Practice”, Sage Publications, 1998

    [5] Ibid, Pg 8

    [6] Ibid, Pg 9-10

    [7] Illinois Department of  Employment Security, MSA Employment Projections, 1998-2008, (

    [8] City of Chicago, Survey of 80 employers in the City of Chicago area (who hire Automotive Mechanics) between September 1999 and October 1999,

    [9] Illinois Department of Employment Security, MSA Employment Projections, 1998-2008


    Thanks to United States Senator Dick Durbin, whose generous support resulted in an earmark grant for the Chicagoland Youth and Adult Training Center (CYATC) which included funding for this evaluation. Thanks to the United States Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration, which administered the earmark grant, and helped to define the elements of the attached evaluation. Special thanks to Ella De Rocca, Assistant Secretary ETA, who encouraged us to help her make the nation’s workforce development system more market-oriented and Miriam Baker, USDOL Government Office Technical Representative, who has worked with CYATC throughout the USDOL grant.

    Thanks to CYATC’s partners, staff and students who made themselves available for interviews and consultation, as needed. Thanks to the various Ford, Lincoln-Mercury dealers and other employers who participated in this evaluation and that have hired 20 at-risk youth and adults who graduated from this program. 

    Thanks to Cassandra Hurt, Associate Director of CYATC for setting up the student interviews and providing ongoing support.

    Thanks to the many champions of CYTAC including Ford Motor Company and the City of Chicago Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development for their support. Thanks to Ford’s Frank Lagone, Manager of Technical Training an example of how far a former auto technician can go; Dwayne Roundtree, one of CYATC’s key Ford champions and Lee Cork another champion. Thanks to D.E. Simmons, Commissioner Jackie Edens, Sean Hardin and Will Edwards, at MOWD.

    Finally, thanks to Reverend Henry A. Barlow, Executive Director of CYATC and President, New City Minister’s Coalition and Tom Hawkes, CYATC Chairman and President/Owner Hawk Lincoln Mercury whose vision created CYATC. This preacher and auto dealer have inspired many to do more then they thought they could do. May their strategy for connecting at-risk youth and adults to a growing part of the economy become a model for workforce development and economic development of many other distressed, low-income communities.

    Jose Wilson 

    Brian Banks

    About the Authors

    Jose Wilson, directs a physical therapy company which provides personal training and health care programs.

    Brian Banks, directs BAC Partners (BACP) which provides strategy consulting, grants writing and development, and research services to community-based and faith-based organizations interested in education, economic development and jobs creation. BACP helps these organizations develop collaborative partnerships with government, business and philanthropic organizations. He can be reached at