Extraordinary Results In 2014, CYC launched a pilot program in two of our Centers that made a significant impact on our children, teens, and families. In 2015, CYC children who participated in the pilot programs performed better in school, attended classes more frequently, were more motivated to succeed, made concrete plans for the future, and were empowered to dream. Families were actively engaged in their children’s future, and we fully surrounded our children with the social capital needed for success. You can read more about our pilot’s intentional strategy and results here.
The outcomes we achieved in just one year show that CYC is uniquely positioned to serve more children and families more deeply. We are laser-focused on our unique ability to create impact and change the trajectory of a child’s life. We know that for our kids, CYC bridges the gap between today and tomorrow— from where they begin to where they ultimately arrive. By the time CYC children turn 18, we want them to have a strong sense of direction and the ability to choose a path out of poverty. Whether their choice is college, a trade, or vocational training, we want them to see and pursue rewarding lives for themselves, and ultimately, their families. We surround our kids with the social capital they need—innovative programming, creative and safe learning spaces, and supportive families and mentors—so they will find and stay on a path to success, and ultimately break the generational cycles of poverty and violence.
There are many challenges facing us as a city, state and an economy—but top of mind for us is the current budget impasse. We understand the perspective of “both sides of the aisle,” and acknowledge the importance of fiscal responsibility within the Illinois budget. However, as board leaders, our primary focus is what impact this budget impasse is having on human lives; on the wellbeing of hard working families and their children; and how CYC can continue to build on the momentum we have created. How do we assure that we can scale our pilots to all of seven of our Centers and increase our impact?
For the past six months, the conversation in our board room has been the same as in board rooms across the city: do we scale back our programs, lay off highly skilled staff, and close operations or do we dig deeper to assure we continue to support more than 2,000 extraordinary children who participate in our Early Childhood, Out-of-School Time and Teen Leadership programs; and the more than 4,000 families who depend on CYC to help support, nurture, and instruct their children.
As the Chair of the Board and Chair of the Finance Committee, the answer was straightforward: we chose NOT to disrupt our programs, Centers, and communities. We chose to keep our children in program, keep our dedicated staff employed, and keep our communities cared for.
Never have we been more confident in how much more we can accomplish. Never have our children needed us more. In these extraordinary times, when our resources are strained so deeply, we continue to ask ourselves how we can do more. We continue to believe in a Chicago where every child has the same access to the resources and opportunities needed to break generational cycles of poverty and violence.
As a Board, we are standing up for kids and committing to raising as much money as possible. We are acknowledging that in extraordinary times, extraordinary giving is required. 100% of our board gives, and collectively they raise more than $1M annually. This year, they have committed to doing more.
We are asking each of you to make this the year you give more. This is important work; this is meaningful work; and this is life-changing work for our children, our families, and our city. Thank you!
Chicago Youth Centers Board Chair
General Manager, Industrial Sector, IBM Global Technology Services
William J. Kelley, Jr.
Chicago Youth Centers Board Member and Chair of Fiance Committee
Vice President Global Head of Internal Audit, The Kraft Heinz Company