Chicago Youth Programs
In 2015, seven percent of CYP’s funding came from the Illinois government according to their annual report. CYP provides over 40 comprehensive programs to at-risk youth, ages 3-25 across the span of three key neighborhoods. They work with youth starting at a young age and give them the tools necessary to thrive as they grow. CYP is an already existing program that accomplishes amazing work within the South Side Chicago community. With more funding, they could expand their programming to impact even more young people with education, employment, and family planning resources. Furthermore, they’re in the best position to partner with other organizations to make sure the services provided upon expansion match the needs of the communities. CYP is also in a great position to partner with the government to build out a department that meets the needs of the community. When you invest in the future of children and young adults you’re investing in the next generation of leaders, scientists, mathematicians, and more.
The citywide mentoring initiative led by the mayor’s office has recently expanded, but there is a clear need for a larger allocation of funds to develop a full and robust department that focuses on developing at-risk communities. There are many cities across the nation that allocate public funding to develop their youth, one example is Boston.
The City of Boston has an entire department that funds the support of children, youth, individuals and families through a wide range of programs and services. They manage 36 facilities, including community centers and pools. Their mission is to enhance the quality of life for Boston residents by partnering with community center councils, agencies, and businesses to support neighborhood needs. Their programs range from preschool, school-aged and adult education, family literacy, and youth employment to violence prevention and intervention, senior activities, recreation, and enrichment. All of this information can be found on their website.
Their Youth Engagement & Employment program provides high school students with real internships that place them in positions to network and advance their future careers. This comprehensive program devotes resources towards placing students in well-paying prestigious internships through their high schools. Aside from the summer job program, there is also the Mayor’s Youth Council (MYC), which is a team of 85 teenagers who advise Mayor Walsh on policy and programming. There is also Youth Lead the Change, a year-to-year participatory budget process where young Bostonians get to help manage how $1 million of the City’s budget is spent to make Boston even better.
This program is funded by the city and is budgeted under health and human services which receives a relatively small portion of the overall budget. The rate of violent crimes has declined over the years as this program has expanded. It should be noted that there is a joint effort across the city to lower the violent crime rate. Police officers, EMT’s, city officials, nonprofits, and programs such as BCYF all do their part to reduce the violent crime rate.
The Illinois government should invest in youth and community programming in a much larger capacity to begin reducing the violent crime rate. Investing in communities is not charity, it is a necessity and the responsibility of the state. Reducing the violent crime rate is the responsibility of the state. Illinois should look to other states and implement programming that fits the needs of their communities. It is no longer enough to point the finger at South Side Chicago when in reality the programs in place to fix many of these problems are underfunded and undervalued by the government.