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Giving Back & Gaining Skills

Graduation day was a proud moment for Chante* and her family, but like many of her peers, she was still unsure about her next move. She knew that college was a good option, but wanted to save money first and wished for more time to consider where to go and what to study. Chante found out about the Youth Guidance AmeriCorps program and applied—a decision that’s giving her new ideas about her future. “We have projects where we work as a team,” she says. “I am more organized and patient than before. I’m learning to be a better leader.”

Chante has secured a part-time job and is carrying out meaningful volunteer work as she finishes planning for college. “I like that what we do helps people, and that when I’m done, I’ll have some extra money for school.”  

Graduation is a major milestone, but some youth still need help continuing their journey once high school ends.  Through Youth Guidance’s AmeriCorps partnership, young adults like Chante can use volunteerism as a stepping stone.  Chante plans to study education and has hopes of becoming a kindergarten teacher.  Youth Guidance is giving her the tools she’ll need to get there.

*Name changed for confidentiality.

About AmeriCorps at Youth Guidance…

Many Youth Guidance graduates continue their developmental journey by joining our AmeriCorps cohort.  AmeriCorps is a national service program made up of local working volunteers who commit to a year of service building communities and solving social problems.  Members gain valuable professional, educational and life benefits, and the experience has a lasting impact on the communities they serve. In addition, participants earn a monthly living allowance, health insurance and an educational award to use towards college tuition or student loan repayments.

From BAM to AmeriCorps: Carlton’s Story

Youth from Chicago’s west side often face many challenges. In areas plagued by gangs, drugs and other distractions, school is not always a priority.  Many young men fail to achieve their goals. This was almost Carlton Toliver’s story.

Four years ago, school did not hold much appeal for Carlton.  As a freshman, he recalls feeling discouraged and restless, hanging out with the wrong crowd and being disruptive in class.  He was soon introduced to the Becoming a Man (BAM) program and credits BAM Counselors Louis Wright and Al Stinson with helping him focus on graduation.

Since graduating in 2015, Carlton has been a member of Youth Guidance’s AmeriCorps program.  He’s now developing new skills and earning additional money for college in the coming year.  He also hopes to become a youth mentor one day and be an inspiration to his brothers. Carlton is being guided down a new path of experiences and challenges that will help him transition further into successful adulthood.

Hear his candid reflections about his Youth Guidance journey.