ENGLEWOOD — Dust off those resumes and polish those shoes, Jobs on the Block is back to connect hundreds of people to career opportunities.
Now in its third year, the event has attracted dozens of employers for the 500 or so jobseekers expected to attend. Starbucks, Amazon, AT&T, FedEx and St. Bernard’s Hospital are among the 30 companies that have signed on so far.
Organized by R.A.G.E. (Resident Association of Greater Englewood) Englewood, the group works with the Chicago Police Department’s 7th District to identify neighborhood hotspots, moving the job fair to a different location each year. Keeping it in Englewood is important; it makes the job search more accessible for those who may not have the means to travel.
“The people here really want to work, and they have no inroads to get a job,” said R.A.G.E. co-founder Aysha Butler. “So Sherice Price [a fellow R.A.G.E. member] and I started talking to people on the block. … We challenged them. Cherice asked them if they would come out if we brought employers to the block, and they said they would.”
Butler and Price — who, as Director of Workforce Solutions for the City Colleges of Chicago, organized job fairs for Kennedy-King College and the Chicago Urban League — decided to take a “No Excuses” approach when creating the inaugural Jobs on the Block event. Using R.A.G.E. headquarters as a “workforce triage,” the duo provided job seekers with suits and laptops, and printed resumes.
“We did two weeks of marketing. We passed out flyers, posted on social media, talked to people to get them there,” recalled Butler. “The first year we had 15 employers. You’d think they wouldn’t want to come to Englewood but I think that with Sherice having such a great relationship with them, they loved the idea.”
Last year, R.A.G.E. held Jobs on the Block at the corner of 66th and Hermitage Street after a shooting occurred a block away. This year, after talking with their 7th District police commander and several outreach teams working with residents, R.A.G.E. is moving the event to 66th Place and Halsted Street.
In addition to employers, the fair will provide job preparedness assistance, helping those who may have records with expungement, and others who are reentering the workforce after a long break with interview prepping and job training.
“Ten to 15 percent of people were hired on the spot,” said Butler. “Each year we’ve kind of enhanced it, and this year we’re hitting the hottest block in Englewood.”
Save for a shooting at the beginning of the summer, there haven’t been any incidents in that area of Englewood, according to Butler. Some residents have joined outreach teams to help keep the block safe and clean. All of it helps, she said.
“It’s better than just arresting people. Our commander said he wants resources brought to them. This is something we can do as a resident association, bring resources to those who need it most.”
Jobs on the Block will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday. For more information and a complete list of employers, visit www.rageenglewood.org.