Nurturing Futures In Lake County For Over 50 Years

In the heart of Waukegan, Illinois, a program with a rich history and a legacy of serving youth in Lake County is celebrating a significant milestone – its 50th year of youth development and environmental stewardship. Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) in Waukegan has been a place for new beginnings and a catalyst for change, bridging the gap between education and practical skills and contributing to the vibrant Lake County business and nonprofit ecosystem.

The Youth Conservation Corps was established in Waukegan half a century ago with a visionary purpose: to provide young individuals with opportunities to learn, grow, and contribute to their community. Over the years, the program has evolved, adapting to the changing needs of both the participants and the community. The YCC has become synonymous with fostering career readiness, environmental stewardship, and leadership.

YCC offers comprehensive programming that focuses on the whole person, with counseling, life skills, high school education completion as well as developing crucial career skills, preparing participants for a successful future. One of the key pathways offered is in construction, providing hands-on experience and the opportunity to earn career-ready certifications.

Additionally, the program recognizes the growing importance of technology in today’s workforce. The YCC offers a pathway to CompTIA certifications, giving participants a competitive edge to enter the rapidly evolving digital workforce. This dual focus on construction and technology ensures that YCC graduates build their own paths to success and are ready to tackle the challenges of the modern job market.

Partnerships Are Integral To Lake County’s Economic Growth

The success of the Youth Conservation Corps in Waukegan is not a solitary achievement but a result of collaborative efforts with key partners in the Lake County economic development ecosystem. The program has strategically aligned itself with a number of local organizations committed to fostering talent and creating a skilled workforce:

  • Lake County Workforce Development: YCC collaborates closely with Lake County Workforce Development, ensuring that the skills imparted align with the current needs of the local job market. This partnership strengthens the connection between education and employment, enhancing the overall employability of YCC participants.

  • College of Lake County (CLC): Through its partnership with CLC, the YCC facilitates seamless transitions for participants who wish to pursue further education. This collaboration opens doors to additional learning opportunities, empowering YCC graduates to pursue advanced degrees and specialized training.

  • Lake County Forest Preserve: Environmental stewardship is at the core of YCC’s mission, and the partnership with the Lake County Forest Preserve allows participants to engage in meaningful conservation projects. This collaboration not only benefits the environment but also instills a sense of responsibility and civic pride.

  • Comcast – Digital Literacy: In an era dominated by technology, digital literacy is a non-negotiable skill. The partnership with Comcast enables YCC participants to access cutting-edge digital literacy programs, ensuring they are well-equipped for the challenges of the digital age.

  • Others: The YCC continues to explore and develop partnerships with other businesses and organizations in Lake County, creating a network that amplifies the impact of the program on the local community. Pace Suburban Bus, ConnectLakeCounty and Urban Farm at CLC are partners with whom YCC is collaborating on programs to support and enhance the lives of our members.

Upcoming Opportunities To Get Involved With Youth Conservation Corps

As the Youth Conservation Corps marks its 50th anniversary, you are invited to celebrate and support this impactful program. One notable event on the horizon is “Rockegan,” scheduled for April 18, 2024. This rock and blues concert at the Genesee Theater serves as a platform to showcase the achievements of YCC participants, highlight their projects, and raise awareness within the Lake County business community.

“Rockegan” provides an opportunity to witness firsthand the impact of YCC, explore ways to get involved, and enjoy the music of Waukegan’s own Ivy Ford. Whether through sponsorship, mentorship, or direct engagement with the program, the event offers a chance for the Lake County business community to play an active role in shaping the future of the local workforce.

“YCC has had a long-term, significant impact on workforce development in Lake County,” observed Lake County Board Member and YCC supporter Marah Altenberg. “Rockegan provides an opportunity to celebrate the organization’s many achievements and contributions to young talent. We are fortunate to have such dedicated mentorship in the community.”