Chicago Youth Centers Celebrates the 16th Annual Lights On Afterschool on Oct. 22, 2015


Developed by The Afterschool Alliance, Lights on Afterschool is a nationwide event designed to raise awareness for afterschool programs’ impact on children and communities. Across the nation and here in Chicago, studies show that powerful afterschool programs strengthen communities and influence the positive development of children, closing significant academic and achievement gaps. For low-income children, these programs ultimately help them break out of generational cycles of poverty.

In a recent research report, America After 3PM, a decade of data chronicles how children spend the hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. —the hours when school has ended and typically before parents have returned from work.  It also defines families’ greatest needs as well as the current challenges in creating greater access to afterschool programs. The data shows an increase in the number of children enrolled in these programs, but also articulates the need to develop more options that are accessible and affordable.  More than 11 million children across the country do not have access to afterschool programs, and consequently could get left behind.

Afterschool programs keep kids safe, inspire them to learn, and help working families.  We encourage you to visit to learn more about this research, and to read CYC's essay about afterschool programs and the aspiration gap from this year's Illinois Kids Count ReportChicago Youth Centers (CYC) is proud to be part of this significant national event.  On October 22, our Centers in Bridgeport, Bronzeville, North Lawndale, and South Shore will host events with our kids, families, and community and legislative leaders to raise awareness to support strong afterschool programs.

At CYC, our lights are always on. From our Early Childhood Education to our Teen Leadership Development Programs, we care for and about the success of our kids every day. For our children ages 6-13 in our Out-of-School Time Program, we support them with innovative and intentional programming designed to fuse academics with non-cognitive and project-based learning.  Through our three Maker Labs, we provide STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) education to children who might not experience this otherwise. Through our project-based learning curriculum, which is modeled after the national movement The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, we teach children the skills needed to succeed in school, in life, and ultimately, in the workforce.

We surround children and teens with the social capital they need to keep them on a path to success: innovative and creative spaces to learn, engaged families and mentors, and programs designed to increase their persistence academically and expand their abilities to reason, create, communicate, and collaborate. We promote their physical development through creative and safe play spaces that include age-appropriate and cool stuff like climbing walls. Our lights are on 12 months out of the year, even after school ends. Our Summer Enrichment Program focuses on combatting summer learning loss and violence prevention.

We are paying attention to the issues and meaningful strategies to address them. We are actively and passionately addressing the major gaps often faced by low income-children, and thoughtfully and intentionally teaching and supporting the whole child.

We encourage you to become passionate advocates with us: help us strengthen the public and private partnership necessary for the well-being of our children, families, and communities. We invite you to celebrate with us between the hours of 3-6 p.m. in any of our Centers on October 22, 2015. We encourage you to come celebrate with us any day. We ask that you let your voice be heard among our legislators, encouraging them to do whatever it takes to preserve vital afterschool funding.  And, when you are asked to give, we ask that you do—as generously and as deeply as possible.   

Join us on Oct. 22 as we celebrate Lights on After School at one of our four participating  Centers:

CYC-ABC  Polk Bros. Youth Center North Lawndale5:30-7:30 pm

Enjoy a Pumpkin Patch Party, Shining Orange on After School. Activities include baking pumpkin squares, roasting pumpkin seeds, pumpkin carving and a Spooky Family Feud competition. There will also be an open forum for parents to talk about the importance of After School programs for the community.

CYC-Elliott Donnelley Youth Center (EDYC) Bronzeville | 5-7 pm

EDYC presents It's Electric! The evening will feature illuminating science experiments like creating glow in the dark crafts and making tornadoes in a bottle. EDYC's Summer Enrichment Staff will also run water activities for children and families,

CYC-Fellowship House  Bridgeport | 4:30-6:30 pm

CYC-Fellowship House will host Fall Fun with Families. Stop by for scarecrow-making, pumpkin carving, taffy cooking, and more!

CYC-Rebecca K. Crown South Shore | 5-6:30 pm

Experience Fall-O-Ween S.T.EA.M. Festival. All activities will focus on one of the S.T.E.A.M fields. They will be making pumpkin-volcanoes (science), building robots (technology), conducting apple drops (engineering), creating popsicle stick Frankensteins (Art), and counting spiders (mathematics).

Research and Resources:

The After School Alliance 

America After 3PM

Illinois Kids Count Report 

Wintrust Commercial Banking Returns as Golf Outing Title Sponsor

For Immediate Release Media Contact                                                                                  

Kara Navin Chicago Youth Centers 218 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL 60604 (312) 913.1700 ex. 450


Wintrust Commercial Banking Returns as Title Sponsor for Chicago Youth Centers Chipping in for Chicago Youth Golf Outing

Chicago, Ill., June 3, 2014 – Chicago Youth Centers (CYC), Chicago's largest independent, locally based, multi-site youth services organization, welcomes a $15,000 title sponsorship from Wintrust Commercial Banking (Wintrust) for the 22nd annual Chicago Youth Centers Chipping in for Chicago Youth Golf Outing. Support gained from the outing will allow CYC to continue providing effective high-quality programming to serve the needs of kids, parents and communities—focusing on academic achievement, social and emotional skill development and parent/family engagement.

Taking place on Monday, August 18 at the Skokie Country Club in Glencoe, the public is invited to join CYC’s cause on the green during the day and in the dining room in the evening. This year’s event will include two shotguns, giving golfers the opportunity to choose between a morning or afternoon start. This event is a unique opportunity as it is one of only two fundraising events held by the Skokie Country Club each year. Pat DeLacey of Raymond James & Associates, Inc. is chairing this year’s outing.

“As Chicago’s bank, Wintrust is proud to support organizations that help children in need in our communities,” said John Dvorak, Executive Vice President of Wintrust and CYC board member. “As a company committed to giving back to the communities we serve, Chicago Youth Centers —with its mission to improve the lives of low-income, at-risk children and teens through a variety of innovative and effective programs—could not be a more deserving organization to support. Wintrust thanks Chicago Youth Centers for all they do to help Chicago’s children.” Wintrust returns as the Chipping in for Chicago Youth title sponsor for the second year.

Event Details

The Chicago Youth Centers Chipping in for Chicago Youth Golf Outing will be held Monday, August 18 at the exclusive Skokie Country Club located at 500 Washington Ave. in Glencoe. The morning shotgun start is 8 a.m. Lunch begins at 11:30 a.m. for all golfers. The afternoon shotgun start is 1 p.m., and the awards dinner for all golfers begins at 6 p.m. Sponsorships are still available. For more information, or to register your foursome, contact Vakarie Christian, at or 312-913-1700 x424.

About Wintrust Commercial Banking

Wintrust Commercial Banking, a financial holding company offering community and commercial banking, wealth management and mortgage services, has served Chicago’s communities since 1991. As a locally based and locally run company, Wintrust takes responsibility for investing in, and giving back to, the neighborhoods it serves. Although Wintrust’s focus is on finance, philanthropy is part of its foundation. Wintrust is proud to support Chicago Youth Centers in its mission and knows that the 2014 Chipping in for Chicago Youth Golf Outing will be an enjoyable, successful event.

About Chicago Youth Centers

Chicago Youth Centers (CYC) invests in the academic, social and emotional development of children and teens in underserved Chicago communities to help them discover and realize their full potential. Founded by Elliott Donnelley and Sidney Epstein in 1956, CYC has grown to include eight neighborhood centers, seven 21st Century Community Learning Centers and Camp Rosenthal. CYC provides youth, ages three to 18, with the following programs: Early Childhood Education, School-Age Child Development, Teen Leadership Development, Camp Rosenthal, Comprehensive Community Based Youth Services and Education Support Initiative. Last year, CYC served more than 5,400 children, parents, and guardians, offering programming ranging from early childhood education to college and career readiness. Visit for more information.


Believe in Kids Dinner

About the Believe in KidsDinner

The theme for this year’s Believe in Kids Dinner is Empowering Generations. The Honorary Chairs are Prue and Frank Beidler and Jay Beidler and his wife Deborah Witzburg. The Beidler Family represents two generations of one family dedicated to Chicago Youth Centers (CYC), and service to this community. Our dinner is the centerpiece of CYC’s fundraising events.

Held on Wednesday, April 23rd in the ballroom of the Standard Club, the evening will begin at 6:00 p.m. with a cocktail reception and the program and dinner at 7:00 p.m. This year’s program will feature Wes Moore as the keynote speaker. Mr. Moore is the critically acclaimed author of The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates. For more information about the dinner or to become a sponsor, please contact Vakarie Christian,, or 312-913-1700 Ext. 424 If you cannot attend the event but would like to show your support, click here to make a donation to CYC.

The event features a Silent Auction. The auction will include vacations, sporting packages and more. It will also feature a unique opportunity to directly support our Program Wish List that includes: sending kids to camp, providing program supplies and helping to support the greatest needs of our kids and centers.

About Our Speaker

Wes Moore is an American success story and a born leader—but he wasn't always on the path to achievement. Raised in a single-parent household in Baltimore with his sisters, Moore was drawn toward trouble as a child, enough so that his mother eventually enrolled him in a Pennsylvania military school. This single, determined choice effectively changed the course of her son's life.
Click here for a preview of Mr. Moore speaking.

About your Investment in CYC

Support for the Believe in Kids dinner will have a meaningful impact on programs at our seven community centers and Camp Rosenthal in Dowagiac, MI. More than 85% of every dollar raised at the dinner directly benefits our kids, families and communities.

About Chicago Youth Centers

Our Mission: Chicago Youth Centers (CYC) invests in youth in underserved communities in Chicago to help them discover and realize their full potential.
Our Vision: CYC helps develop successful kids in Chicago’s underserved communities by helping them break out of the generational cycles of poverty and violence.
Our Pillars: Our strategic pillars are founded on the core principals of surrounding kids with the social capital they need to be successful—safe spaces, family engagement and community engagementand providing them with the skills they need to be successful—knowledge, access, involvement, choices.
1. Match our programming to the true needs of our kids and communities
2. Provide a coordinated continuum of support and programming.
3. Build 21st Century life and learning skills
4. Engage and train parents to support their transitions at critical social/emotional and academic transitions
5. Continuously measure and improve our outcomes
Our Values: To be Fiscally Sound, Maintain the Highest Standard of Ethics, Chicago Centric, Prevention Focused and Develop effective and meaningful Partnerships & Collaborations.

About the Audience

Approximately 400 corporate, civic and community leaders attend this event annually.

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