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.

image
image
image

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.

image
image
image

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.

image
image
image

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