In 1956, Chicago businessmen Elliott Donnelley and Sidney Epstein met for the first time while waiting for a very slow elevator. As they waited, their conversation revealed multiple shared values and an interest in bringing supportive youth programs to their communities. Both believed in community inclusion, strong and effective leadership, thoroughly tested programs and continuous innovation. It was apparent to them that they both shared a vision about how youth organizations can have a greater positive impact on ensuring more successful outcomes for their communities, and they created a strategy to make it happen. The result was Chicago’s largest and most impactful youth organization serving Chicago—Chicago Youth Centers (CYC).
Today, CYC operates seven Centers in six high-need communities, and partners with early childhood providers and community schools in several additional neighborhoods.