Local news in Evanston reported that 73 juveniles were arrested for 113 offenses during the summer of 2011. Not only are these youth (16 to 22 years old) off track to adulthood, but in all likelihood they will have a hard time getting on track without becoming employed. This is the biggest obstacle these youth face.
So how do these youth become productive, contributing members of society and not part of the vicious cycle of incarceration that so many at-risk youth face?
Susan Trieschmann opened a café called Curt’s Café, as a training ground in the food service industry for recently released and high at-risk youth. With more than 25 years as a successful caterer, Trieschman’s personal passion steered her in the direction of restorative justice – nonviolent mediation. Curt’s Café’s training program teaches skills for the coffee shop and food service industry while also teaching life skills so that way the youth can be successful in the community and in their future lives. We promote education, respect, compassion and integrity, and embrace the philosophy of restorative justice in all that we do.
In her own words, Trieschmann said she opened Curt’s one year ago because, “I kept hearing a lot of kids say that if they just had jobs they wouldn’t go through the system, they wouldn’t get arrested.” She continues, “They just need jobs […] if they have a history, if they’re African American, if they’re uneducated, they have everything against them. So what I’m trying to do here with the help of a million volunteers is rebuild their life skills so they have the confidence to try to get a job. They all come in saying they want to be dishwashers, and by the time they leave they want to be doctors or physicists or chemists. So it’s pretty exciting, once they see what’s out there and once they see that they’re capable of doing things.”
Who Benefits from this project?
According to Trieschmann, “I think we’ve had 18 kids come through in our first year, and most of them are either job placed or in college or back in high school. We’ve lost a couple, but just a few, and some have rotated back twice already. But we haven’t lost many to the justice system, which is our goal, to keep them all out of the justice system. Most of our kids have already had judicial contact or have been incarcerated.”
In addition to the students, Curt’s Café is a benefit to the community of Evanston and local businesses. We are working with an underserved population in the community in an effort to curb teen violence that is an issue in our city. We are also training and providing workers for the many food service businesses in our community.
How Can I Help?
Because we are a non-profit we are always looking for additional sources of funding. We pay our students a daily stipend of $50 to work in the café. Much of the work done at Curt’s is to keep the organization running. Administration, emotional coaching, tutoring, marketing, job placement and even baking are done by volunteers. We are hoping to raise enough money to hire a social worker that can help the students navigate many of the tough issues, including homelessness, addiction, and abuse, that they bring to work with them each day.
Contact Name: Lori Dube
Web Site: www.curtscafe.org
Location: 2922 Central Street, Evanston, IL
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone Number: 847.716.0520