YOUTH GUIDANCE IN CHICAGO
Youth Guidance serves approximately 13,000 youth each year. We operate in some of Chicago’s most under-resourced communities, and provide school-based programs in partnership with over 118 Chicago schools. More than 90% of the students we serve are low-income and are 58% African American, 31% Hispanic/Latino, and 9% Caucasian/other races and ethnicities.
Support of our mission — with an annual budget of $26 million — is derived from government and private sources. Youth Guidance is governed by a volunteer board of 36 directors and eight life members and is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. The agency is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA).
The Becoming A Man® program (BAM®) is a school-based group counseling program that guides young men in 6th-12th grades to learn, internalize and practice social cognitive skills, make responsible decisions for their future and become positive members of their school and community.
BAM integrates clinical theory and practice, men’s rites of passage work, and a dynamic approach to youth engagement.
Working On Womanhood (WOW) is a multifaceted, school year-long group counseling and clinical mentoring program.
WOW works to improve social-emotional competencies for girls in 6th-12th grade exposed to traumatic stressors in high risk and under-resourced communities.
Using a trauma-Informed approach, WOW targets young women with significant risk factors for dropout or delinquency such as: teenage pregnancy, trauma, drug or alcohol abuse, self-harm, gang involvement, fighting, academic failure and discipline referrals.
Our Full-Service Community Schools support middle and high school youth through activities designed to encourage an academic mindset. Programming, special events and experiential projects help students uncover their unique strengths, find their voice and use it to make intentional, strategic choices about their future. Students become self- advocates in overcoming their own social and emotional barriers to success.
High School Resource Coordinators develop student-centered programming, work to improve the school climate and support adolescent development in areas essential to post-secondary success, including:
Extended Day and Enrichment programs generally operate Monday through Friday from the end of the traditional school day until between 6:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. At times, programs hold special performances, workshops, open houses, dinners, socials and other events that are open to the entire family and, sometimes, the broader community.
STRIVE delivers counseling and academic support to youth in care and their families that empower them to achieve social and academic success. As necessary and appropriate, youth living in subsidized guardian-ship and adoption situations may also participate in the program.
The Parent & Family Engagement program develops parents and other caring adults as role models and leaders. Parents learn to model positive adult-student relationships and reinforce safe, youth-centered school climates.
Youth Guidance meets youth where they are–physically in schools, socially and emotionally–to offer counseling support in Chicago Public Schools. Staff address a student’s entire support system and facilitate positive change through individual, group, and/or family counseling. Through advocacy and case management, they provide resources and linkages to services that ensure that students attend school regularly, move on to the next grade level, achieve academically, and graduate from school.
Youth Guidance’s Alumni Initiative is dedicated to engaging graduates of Youth Guidance programs after high school to track their success and assess their needs in order to help brighten their futures.
We have multiple opportunities to be a valued part of the initiative, including becoming an alumni ambassador, leading on college campuses, attending group counseling and joining a mentorship program to sharpen networking skills.
Project Prepare helps students develop hard and soft life skills focused on college and career readiness. Most participants are between the ages of 15-19. Students enter the program through referral and meet with highly- skilled Career Specialists on a bi-weekly basis. Each school year, Project Prepare successfully places students with job opportunities.Safeguarding graduation is a primary focus for program staff.
In 2017, Youth Guidance launched its workforce development program called Project Prepare Blue. This program builds upon its proven in-school programming to serve 45 out-of-school and underemployed youth. Individual and group-based career exploration, job readiness training and other supports take place in a community-based setting. Staff facilitates placement into employment and advanced training and/or college that will lead to work and education retention, skills gains, credential attainment, and increased earnings.
The Fellowship Initiative (TFI) is a partnership between Youth Guidance and JPMorgan Chase designed to expand economic opportunities for young men of color.
Our program is designed to support fellows in expanding the skills, knowledge, experience, networks, and other resources they need to succeed academically and professionally.
Youth Guidance, a legacy organization to the City of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools, has undergone a year of radical change and transformation. Youth Guidance remains deeply committed and determined to do the critical work that fosters youth agency and creates safe spaces. We never give up.
This has been a year we will never forget, as we continue to navigate the pandemic, workforce shortages, and continued social unrest burdening too many families and neighborhoods. Our counselors, staff, families, and young people will continue to lean on each other and learn from one another, as we deepen our Youth Guidance community. On behalf of our families and our young people, thank you for standing alongside us and believing in the power of community.
MEET OUR CHIEF PROGRAM OFFICER
Chief Program Officer
PROGRAM STRATEGY COMMITTEE
Youth Guidance’s Board of Directors’ Committees are composed of individuals who are committed to helping students and program participants in their communities. Each committee member has a strong desire be actively involved in solving the issues these youth face. Each devotes time, talent and expertise to the current and future work of our local programs.