Youth Guidance Voice

Letter from the CEO

As we stand on the threshold of a momentous milestone, I am filled with immense pride and gratitude to announce that Youth Guidance is celebrating 100 years. This incredible journey from our modest beginnings to becoming a national force for positive change has been shaped by the unwavering commitment of our community, partners, and, most importantly, the countless lives we have touched.

Allow me to take a moment to reflect not only on the history of our organization but also on my own journey. Honestly, I’d heard about the cutting-edge work of Youth Guidance my entire life.  My father had the privilege of leading the agency for a few critical years when the small but mighty organization boldly decided to move all services from a downtown location into the schools. Young people were now able to get the help they needed, when they needed it most.

 

As a young professional, I was drawn to Youth Guidance as it embarked on a pioneering new approach to addressing educational inequity. The whole school approach to responding the social emotional needs of young people marginalized through poverty, structural racism and educational malpractice was truly groundbreaking. This began the most transformative chapter of my life. Little did I know then that this experience would shape the trajectory of my career and, eventually, lead me to the privilege of serving as your CEO today.

I was drawn to Youth Guidance as it embarked on a pioneering new approach to addressing educational inequity.

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I vividly recall the passion that fueled our work: the shared commitment to making a difference in the lives of young people facing challenges. Those early days were marked by dedication, learning, and a profound sense of purpose. I received the greatest mentorship possible by Youth Guidance’s talented leaders and social justice warriors. As I navigated various roles within Youth Guidance, I witnessed firsthand the positive impact our programs have had on the lives of youth we serve.

Fast forward to the present, and it is an incredible honor to stand before you as the CEO of an organization that has not only weathered a century of change but has also remained steadfast in its mission to empower and uplift. Our success is not just a testament to the resilience of our organization but also to the unwavering support of each member of the Youth Guidance family—our dedicated staff, volunteers, partners, and the communities we serve.

I vividly recall the passion that fueled our work: the shared commitment to making a difference in the lives of young people facing challenges. Those early days were marked by dedication, learning, and a profound sense of purpose.

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Reflecting on the past century, it’s awe-inspiring to see the transformative power of our collective efforts. What started as a vision to support unwed mothers has evolved into an organization that spans Boston, Chicago, Waukegan, Dallas, DC, Kansas City Los Angeles, Greater Pittsburgh, and Seattle. Our programs, such as Becoming a Man (BAM) and Working on Womanhood (WOW), have become beacons of hope, supporting nearly 15,000 youth annually.

Next Monday, January 15, Youth Guidance sites will celebrate Youth Guidance’s 100th anniversary by hosting MLK Unity events or joining in an existing MLK event in the cities where we serve in honor of Dr. King’s legacy.

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As we mark this centennial milestone, we also look to the future with optimism and determination. Our commitment to culturally responsive, life-changing resources and services remains unwavering. We are poised to continue shaping futures and transforming lives, guided by the lessons of the past and fueled by the vision of a brighter tomorrow. I invite you to visit our 100th anniversary page on our website that illustrates our 100-year journey through an historical timeline, and shares stories from some of our alumni. If you have a story to share from your time with Youth Guidance, we invite you to submit it here.

Thank you for being an integral part of this extraordinary journey. Here’s to the past, present, and future of Youth Guidance!

In Service,

Michelle Adler Morrison

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The Youth Guidance Voice [July 2021]

ICYMI/YG in the News

ICYMI:

Last month, the Becoming a Man program was featured in a special conversation between President Barack Obama and Anderson Cooper.

President Obama reunited with 5 BAM youth to discuss fatherhood, leadership and their growth since their first meeting.

Ngozi Harris, WOW Training Manager, was featured on ABC 7 ‘Our Chicago’ to share Working on Womanhood’s impact on young women through the program’s core values and counselor support.

BAM Block Party/Rites of Passage

As the school year concluded, BAM celebrated a remarkable close to the year with activities for young men. The agency wide event included BAM Alumni rapper GL Snotty, BAM Student Jaheem Adams, and a performance by national artist G Herbo was held at Chop Shop on June 28th, 2021. The annual block party is typically in tandem with rites of passages for the young men, but because of the pandemic, BAM met the need virtually.

BAM and WOW students got to also hear words of affirmations from Mayor Lightfoot, Jimmy Butler, Tim Anderson, and Diamond DeShields. Lucky students, who registered for the event, got giveaways such as: gift cards, PS4’s, and tablets.

WOW Celebrates Gail Day

As you all may know, Gail Day retired after 24 years of service July 2, 2021.

During her time at Youth Guidance, her vision birthed the program Working on Womanhood (WOW).

Gail leaves as the program celebrates ten years of impact to young women. While we are saddened to see her leave, we are forever grateful for her vision, leadership and commitment to championing young women. 

Congratulations Gail on your retirement from Youth Guidance!

My Vision, My Journey

WOW students and staff at Bowen High School, Julian High School, and several others across the city celebrated My Vision, My Journey as a rites of passage for Working on Womanhood students.

The ceremony includes gifts, poetry readings and inspirational readings/music. The celebration is held to honor the achievements of WOW students while participating in the program.

This year, an event was held at Bowen High School in a special party tent full of a number of activities.

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Youth Guidance Voice

The Youth Guidance Voice

All of us at Youth Guidance are so grateful for the incredible support of our recent Bright Futures Virtual Gala.

It is because of our sponsors and champions that a record-breaking $1.3 Million was raised to support our programming. This achievement demonstrates unwavering resilience during such challenging times. Together, we are all working to create bright futures for our youth.

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