Champaign County Youth Assessment Center moves, receives donation from Jimmy John’s owner and founder


Ryan Fang

The interior of Jimmy John’s restaurant on Feb 28, 2017.

By Eric Rzeszutko, Staff Writer

The Champaign County Youth Assessment Center is going to have their next three years of rent covered due to a $50,000 donation from Jimmy John Liautaud, owner of sandwich restaurant franchise Jimmy John’s.

According to the Champaign County website, “The Youth Assessment Center is a juvenile diversion program whose purpose is to redirect youth from the criminal justice system.”

The center was housed in an office building owned by the Champaign Unit 4 School District. After three years, the school district decided they needed the space and asked the center to move out.

Director of communications and community relations Emily Schmit explained why the district needed to reclaim their space.

“The district will be using this space again. However, we don’t have specific plans finalized or ready to share yet,” Schmit said.

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    With the future use of the space still unclear, the Youth Assessment Center found a new space in West Champaign. Liautaud’s $50,000 donation will help the center operate rent-free for their first three years.

    Liautaud worked with his office and county officials, such as Champaign County state’s attorney Julia Rietz, to plan for the Youth Center’s move.

    “Julia got lucky. I was at the right place at the right time. She asked and I gave, period. I didn’t want such a great program not to have a home,” Liautaud said.

    According to their website, the county of Champaign began the center as an effort to keep minors out of the judicial system and provide preventative options from further negative actions.

    Most often, individuals are referred to the center for primary minor offenses. At the Youth Assessment Center, case managers use the individual’s referrals from police, school, formal charges against them and even family recommendations to begin preventative measures.

    Liautaud and the company plan to continue to help the center until its opening.

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