First, I would like to send everyone well wishes and love as we all navigate these unprecedented times.
Like most, Chicago Youth Programs has transitioned to working remotely. While the current crisis necessitates how we work, it is clearer now perhaps more than ever, the importance of why we do what we do. It is moments like these that underscore the vital role we play in the lives of our youth and their families, acting now as a pipeline to connect them with much needed resources as they too navigate this crisis.
What’s more, most of the youth served by CYP’s work attend underperforming schools and live in under-resourced communities. For them, the consequences of the current situation extend far past the end to social distancing and their return to school. The achievement gap is widening each day families are required to “home school” and live without the support offered by school administrators, teachers, counselors, and nurses. To combat this, program staff has been working diligently to:
• Deliver targeted academic support in the areas of math, reading, and early literacy
• Engage middle and high school teens in group and 1:1 mentoring sessions via virtual and social media outlets
• Create social emotional learning games and activities
• Host virtual field trips and tours
• Empower parents to lead and support
• Introduce telemedicine to support our youth’s physical health needs
Like you, we could not foresee the grave effect that COVID 19 would have on our families, our organization, and the nonprofit sector as a whole. As we are all confronted by the sad reality that the current pandemic has a disproportionately negative impact in the black community, we see also the consequences of community disinvestment and generational poverty. In contrast, for every child who is supported by the Chicago Youth Programs model we make a promise to them: A long term investment to bolster them toward long term success and a life outside of poverty. So, in the midst of these uncertain times, we reconfirm that promise.
I am grateful for our dedicated staff who themselves have suffered personal losses during this tragedy and still dedicate their service to our youth. I am grateful also for each of you who champion our cause through your support of our mission. It cannot be understated how your support has and will continue to help us keep our CYP Promise. Wishing you and yours health and safety.