Latest News

  • Thursday, February 26, 2015 

    Announcing the Chicago Jobs Council’s New Executive Director

    The Chicago Jobs Council is excited to announce that Carrie Thomas has been selected as its new Executive Director, effective March 1, 2015! In addition to her seven years of experience as CJC’s Associate Director, Carrie gained valuable experience while working with the Jobs Now Coalition and The Employment and Opportunity Project in Minnesota. In addition, she worked with the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago, Project Hope, the Erikson Institute and the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School in Chicago. Read more about the decision in an open letter from CJC’s Board President, John Plunkett, by clicking here.

  • Monday, February 23, 2015 

    Governor’s Budget Devastates Workers: Will Undermine Illinois’ Recovery

    For some, Illinois’ economy is in recovery. But for many more, the recession continues unabated. Over 400,000 working families are poor or near poverty in Illinois—50,000 more families than in 2007. The unemployment rate in some communities is 30%.  Black Illinoisans suffer a 14.4% unemployment rate.

    Instead of creating opportunities, Illinois’ new Governor has decided that struggling jobseekers and their families are not important to Illinois’ economic future.  Illinois will never prosper if it sacrifices services for Illinoisans who seek work. The cuts proposed by the new Governor will devastate workers and communities across the state.  They will push more people into unemployment.

    In his budget address, the Governor called for “shared sacrifices” to close a $6 billion deficit. But he has targeted the most vulnerable Illinoisans to bear the burden of his cuts, without asking those who thrive to pay their share. That does not resemble any type of “sharing” we’re familiar with.  In contrast, the budget outlined is hyper regressive – hurting you more, the poorer you are.

    Low-income workers and families in Illinois have endured slashes to human services, Medicaid, and higher education for years. Now, the Governor targets subsidized childcare, funding for transit, higher education, youth services, and more. This will exacerbate the challenges people have getting jobs and undermine the health of Illinois’ economy.

  • Friday, October 24, 2014 

    Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Resources

    President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) into law on July 22, 2014.  The law passed with a bipartisan majority in the U.S. House and Senate and it reauthorizes the Workforce Investment Act for six years from 2015-2020.

    In order to track the important changes made by this legislation to our national workforce system, a WIOA resource page was created on the Chicago Jobs Council’s Workforce and Information Resource Exchange (WIRE), which can be accessed by clicking here.

    In addition to the WIRE, you can also monitor the implementation of WIOA on the following websites:

    If you have any questions about WIOA, please contact Steve Simmons, Senior Policy Associate at 312-252-0435 or or Liz Czarnecki, Senior Policy Associate at 312-252-0458 or


    Representative Bellock Joins the 21st Century Workforce Development Fund

    The Illinois Works for the Future campaign is excited to announce that Representative Patti Bellock has been appointed to the 21st Century Workforce Development Fund’s Advisory Board.  Representative Bellock is the Deputy Republican Leader in the Illinois House and the Republican Spokesperson on the Human Services Appropriations Committee.  She also serves on the Labor and Commerce and Mass Transit Committees.  Her district covers part of DuPage County and includes the communities of Elmhurst, Oakbrook, and Clarendon Hills.  Welcome to the Advisory Board, Representative Bellock, and thank you for your willingness to serve!  We look forward to working with you.

    In other news, the Fund’s Advisory Board decided during a recent meeting to focus its work specifically on expanding strategies targeted to job seekers with the most barriers to employment.  The Board plans to work on increasing resources for workforce development.  One project involves exploring the opportunity to bring additional federal funding from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program’s Employment and Training program (SNAP E&T) to Illinois. For more information on the Fund, click here.


    Urban Weatherization Initiative Update

    The Urban Weatherization Initiative (UWI) is a statewide program designed to improve low income urban areas by training unemployed residents to weatherize homes and requiring contractors to purchase materials locally. The Illinois General Assembly created UWI in 2009 as part of the State’s Capitol Bill and authorized up to $425 million for the program.  The Illinois Works for the Future campaign and Chicago Jobs Council have been strong advocates of UWI and have called for the passage of state legislation HB3827, which would make several important legislative changes to the program.

    UWI has recently come under scrutiny from the Better Government Association due to the program’s outcomes and other challenges with the program’s design, namely the requirement that contractors have to pay UWI program graduates according to the State’s Prevailing Wage Act.  A link to an October 13th Chicago Sun-Times story on UWI can be found by clicking here.

    In other news, UWI’s Advisory Board recently awarded a new round of grants for its two training programs, Home Energy Auditor and Weatherization Specialist, and a third program, Residential Weatherization, that pays for energy upgrades to homes in low-income urban areas.  The full list of new UWI grantees is as follows:

    Home Energy Auditor ($4 million to 16 grantees, $250,000 per grantee)

    • Albany Park Community Center
    • Asian Human Services
    • Black United Fund
    • Diversified Alliances
    • Genesis Housing Development
    • Gordies Foundation
    • North Lawndale Employment Network
    • Proviso Leyden Council for Community Action
    • Quad County Urban League
    • Resource Center for the Westside Communities
    • Reassemble Education and Training
    • REM Services
    • Southwestern Illinois College
    • Tri-County Urban League
    • Utilivate
    • XL Academics

    Weatherization Specialist ($3.75 million to 15 grantees, $250,000 per grantee)

    • Albany Park Community Center
    • Black Star Project
    • Coalition for United Community Action
    • Emerson Park
    • FORUM
    • Illinois YouthBuild Coalition
    • North Lawndale Employment Network
    • Peoria Citizen’s Committee for Economic Opportunity
    • Quad County Urban League
    • REM Services
    • Southwestern Illinois College
    • Urban League of Metro St. Louis
    • Utilivate
    • Vision of Restoration
    • Youth Conservation Corps.

    Residential Weatherization Program ($8 million to eight grantees, $1 million per grantee)

    • CCS/YouthBuild
    • Diversified Alliances
    • Energy Savers Remodelers
    • Latin United Coalition
    • Proviso Leyden Council
    • Quad County Urban League
    • Urban League of St. Louis
    • W&M Insulation

    If you have any questions about UWI or would like to support our advocacy on behalf of the program, please contact Steve Simmons, Senior Policy Associate, at 312-252-0435 or


    In Memoriam

    IWF and CJC are saddened to learn of the passing of a longtime supporter and friend, Dennis McCann.  Dennis worked for the People’s Resource Center in Wheaton and helped found the West Suburban Jobs Council where he served as Vice President until his retirement in July.  CJC awarded Dennis the 2012 Volunteer of the Year Award in recognition of his numerous contributions to improving the lives of disadvantaged job seekers.  We will always remember Dennis for his warmth, passion for advocacy, and commitment to improving the lives of job seekers with the most barriers to employment.

  • Thursday, October 2, 2014 

    TAKE ACTION To Help Build A Stronger Illinois

    Three million adults in Illinois have less than a high school education while new jobs will require at least two years of post high school education or training. It is critical that the next governor invest in workforce development strategies. In order to take advantage of the approaching gubernatorial election, The Illinois Works for the Future (IWF) campaign and Chicago Jobs Council (CJC) has released policy recommendations for the state’s next governor.

    Please consider taking action to support our policy recommendations. You can get involved in the following ways:

    Please contact Steve Simmons ( or Andrés Moreno ( if you have any questions.

    Thank you for your continued support of IWF and CJC as well as your work to ensure employment and training opportunities for low-skilled job seekers is a top policy priority!

  • Tuesday, September 9, 2014 

    Policy Recommendations for Illinois’ Next Governor

    With one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation and rates still over 10% in some communities, Illinois is at a critical juncture in its economic growth. Nearly three million adults have only a high school degree or less, but the job market – with increasing opportunities in manufacturing, healthcare, and transportation – demands skills and work experience, leaving many job seekers behind. Ignoring this challenge will mean an enduring drag on Illinois’ economic growth. Illinois needs an aggressive strategy to correct the workforce barriers that keep job seekers from getting into work, onto career pathways, and contributing to their local communities. The following recommendations from the Chicago Jobs Council are solutions to the most serious workforce challenge faced by our state. To view the recommendations, click here.

  • Tuesday, August 5, 2014 

    Minimum Wage Canvassing at the Bud Billiken Parade

    Can Illinois working families afford another year without a raise? Join our friends Raise Illinois at the Bud Billiken Parade this Saturday, August 9th as they talk to thousands of supporters about how they will raise the minimum wage this year.

    On November 4th, every voter in Illinois will have a question on their ballot asking if they support raising our state’s minimum wage. Raise Illinois needs your help so that hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans get out and vote to raise the minimum wage! Can you sign up for a 2-hour canvass at the Bud Billiken parade this Saturday?

    Please RSVP with your name, phone number, and organization by 5pm Wednesday, August 6th to Erik Martinez at 773.816.4126 or Please indicate a preferred time slot: [7am-9am, 9am-11am, 11am-1pm, 1pm-3pm, 3pm-5pm].

    Be sure to also share and sign the online voter pledge card with your friends and family. Click here to sign the pledge card and spread the word!

  • Thursday, July 24, 2014 

    Big Week for Workforce Development

    The Obama administration took major steps this week to push for increased connection between workforce training programs and America’s current labor market realities. Following the release of an action plan for job training programs produced with leadership from Vice President Joe Biden, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) was signed into law by President Obama on Tuesday. Earlier this month, the act passed with overwhelming support in both the House and Senate.

    The administration’s review of job training programs had revealed model programs which quickly and effectively prepare ready-to-work individuals for the available jobs in growing industries. Chicago’s Jane Addams Resource Corporation is listed on the map of model programs. A major goal of this review of programs and the passing of WIOA is to encourage policymakers to support the growth and development of more programs that can support the development of the country’s workforce.

    Stay tuned to and CJC’s The WIRE in the coming weeks and months for more on WIOA and federal investment in workforce development.

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