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Program Seeks To Find Jobs For Unemployed Youth

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Many young people in the city's disadvantaged areas want jobs, and one Chicago non-profit is trying to give them something more -- skills and education that will last a lifetime.

39 percent of young African-Americans in Chicago are unemployed, and more than 20 percent of Hispanic or Latino people are also without work.

With the city's high youth unemployment rate, Skills for Chicagoland's Future is working to match businesses that have current, unmet hiring needs with unemployed and underemployed job seekers.

CBS 2's Jim Williams saw the program in action. "How many of you have had a hard time finding a job?" he asked one group.

Everyone raised their hand.

"Let's put together a two-year pathway program where the employer is going to invest in these youth in a long-term capacity," CEO Marie Trzupek said.

Since Skills launched in September 2012, thousands of job seekers have been placed at a growing list of employer partners, the company says. According to their website, they've had more than 4,300 successful placements at more than 60 partners.

Skills partners with a variety of workforce and community agencies. Some include: Chase Bank, Yelp, DePaul University, United, Rush University Medical Center, University of Chicago Medicine, BMO Harris Bank and Walgreens.

"I need a career, something where I can take care of my family," said Diamonte Woods, who's brother was killed in a drive-by shooting. He says he, too, was on a dangerous path. "I didn't want to end up like my brother."

Woods is among 47 young people at Skills who interviewed with Walgreens. CBS 2 has learned the company hired 25 of those individuals, including Woods.

"I feel cared for. I feel like this is a chance for my city to be looking out for me," Woods said.

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