Youth Employment Services


Recognizing the need for a youth summer employment program, Champaign Unit 4 Schools and the City of Champaign worked in partnership to design a program to be implemented June 2011 utilizing one-time funding from the Urban Renewal Fund. Champaign Unit 4 Schools designed a job placement program which connected 161 students with 69 employers the first year. Of that number, 146 completed the entire program.​

The team assessed program results at the close of that summer and returned with a new proposal for the next year. Their commitment to transparency and detailed reporting won them a renewed investment from both the city and the school district. In their second year, they connected with fewer students but had a higher completion rate. The program continued to grow and improve each summer. In 2015, they served 179 students and had 100% of them complete the program. 

As the number of students and employers increased, it became clear that the program needed a full-time supervisor to oversee the operations. In 2015, the team won approval to create this position in time for 2016's program. 

In January 2017, we launched Youth Employment Services. We now work with students throughout the entire year, helping them build bridges to meaningful employment and bright futures. 

YES students each complete a short and long-term goals worksheet, and program staff conduct regular check-ins to help them track their progress throughout their high school years. 

They also receive one-on-one coaching on building resumes and cover letters, and training on interviewing and networking strategies. Workshops are offered on general soft skills such as communication, time-management, teamwork, and problem solving/critical thinking. View our Program Components page for more information on our services. 


Building bridges to meaningful employment for Champaign’s youth.


We strive to help our students recognize the benefits of the “scenic route” to success. It is a longer road, but one that offers varied and meaningful experiences. There is always an impulse to meet challenges by seeking shortcuts around them. Our goal is to help students discover the values of hard work, responsibility, and commitment as they form clear and ambitious goals for their futures. We depend on local businesses to mentor our students, helping them build bridges that connect one part of the road to the next. 


Prepare students for employment and first-time work experience

  • Resume-building and Career Cruising Assessments
  • Mock interviews
  • Learning seminars, including financial planning sessions
  • Career Fair

Match students to employers

  • Personality/interest assessments to ensure all students get the most out of their placement
  • Tiered approach to pairing students and employers based on skills and experience
  • Paired with worksite coordinators for extra support system

Train and prep employers for working with teen and first-time employees

  • Provide mentoring guidelines
  • Provide best practices for working with and relating to teen and first-time employees
  • Paired with worksite coordinators for extra support system


  • Experience of being mentored and supported in career development
  • Exposure to job and career experience
  • Development of career and life skills
  • Appreciation for responsibility and dependability
  • Enhanced self-esteem
  • Motivation to excel in school and beyond
  • Support for future goals
  • Networking opportunities in field of interest
  • Possible post-program employment
  • Acquire skills in communication, time-management, teamwork, decision-making, and workplace etiquette
  • Connect to their community with opportunities to give back


  • Build and nurture relationships with community youth
  • Assist in fostering and developing career goals
  • Positive exposure in the community
  • Partnership in strengthening the future of the community workforce
  • Chance to change/positively influence the lives of students and their families
  • Opportunity to showcase particular area of expertise
  • Create talent pipeline for their field of employment
  • Build connections within the community as partners in long-term collaboration efforts


  • Joint Career Fair (YES, Urbana SYEP, and CARE4U) - April 19, 2017 

  • Kick-Off Celebration - June 5, 2017 (if we use all our snow days, back-up date is June 6, 2017)

  • Training/Orientation - June 6-June 16, 2017

  • Work Dates - June 19-July 29, 2017

  • Closing Ceremony - July 31, 2017

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