The Mission of Chicago Youth Programs (CYP) is to improve the health and life opportunities of at-risk youth using a comprehensive approach aimed at developing their capabilities.
Chicago Youth Programs (CYP) is an award-winning, innovative program created by Northwestern University medical students in 1984. CYP currently offers services in three under-served communities: Near North/ Cabrini Green, Washington Park, and Uptown. The Cabrini Green Youth Program started in 1984, the Washington Park Youth Program was founded in 1995, and the Uptown Community Youth Program began in 1998.
What We Do
CYP provides over 40 comprehensive programs to at-risk youth, ages 3-25, living in the Washington Park, Near North/Cabrini Green, and Uptown/Rogers Park neighborhoods. Why these neighborhoods? CYP is dedicated to serving those least likely to have access to support. These neighborhoods have some of the highest rates of youth living in poverty out of all 77 of Chicago’s neighborhoods. In Washington Park, our largest community program, fully 86% of children below the age of 18 are growing up in poverty. The need and isolation poverty creates, combined with underfunded schools and a lack of affordable after school or summer programs, feed into a cycle of poverty that is difficult to escape.
To combat this devastating reality, we make it our goal to empower each of our youth to escape poverty by attaining the skills and degree necessary to attain financial independence.
Our approach is to bring children into programming at a young age and retain them up through college, providing comprehensive resources to meet their educational and developmental needs at each stage of their journey. Programming areas include: literacy skills, tutoring, mentoring, recreation, arts & cultural activities, leadership development, ACT/SAT prep, college and scholarship application support, scholarships, job readiness training, and personal support throughout their college education. All of our programs are free and CYP provides transportation to and from programs to ensure that access is never an issue.
Who We Are
CYP is an intentional community made up of the 400 youth we serve annually, the 600 volunteers who help us run programs, a small support staff located out of our Washington Park community center, and hundreds of people who support the work we do.
CYP was founded in 1984, by volunteers distressed by the challenges facing youth growing up in the Cabrini Green public housing projects. What began as a recreation and mentoring program later expanded to more comprehensive services, as volunteers realized more support was needed to truly help youth overcome poverty long-term. Later, the successful Cabrini Green Youth Program (now the Near North/Cabrini Green Youth Program), served as a model for expansion as CYP added the Washington Park Youth Program (1995) and the Uptown Youth Program (1998).