Message from the Executive Director
“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”
~ Nelson Henderson
All of us at Youth Crossroads continue to be inspired by the resiliency and determination of local young people. Despite varying degrees of hardships, challenges and obstacles in their lives, so many kids are working hard to push forward, grow and thrive.
Our mission to guide, support and inspire these youth is as important now as it was 41 years ago when the agency first started to “plant trees” in Berwyn, Cicero and surrounding communities. Our work helps students feel more connected to and confident in their school life, their family life and in their community. While we will never know the extent to which we have been successful in our mission over the long term, we trust that thousands of young lives have benefitted from Youth Crossroads’ care and attention.
We all have great opportunities to help our youth realize their greater potential. Let’s continue to nurture the best in all youth we meet and trust that our attention and support will create mighty forests for the world’s future benefit.
Thanks for all you do to support our work and our local kids.
Thanks for taking time to visit our updated website!
I am pleased to report that, in FY 2013, YC influenced the lives of over 6,000 local youth, their families and residents of the Berwyn, Cicero, Stickney, Forest View and Lyons communities. Another fun fact: between 2008 and 2013 YC increased the total number of local youth and residents served annually by 824% (760 served in 2008; 6,293 served in 2013). What makes this statistic even more remarkable is that our annual budget has remained relatively flat over that same five year period. Like just about every other social service agency, business, and family over the past several years, YC has had to figure out new, creative ways to manage limited resources while still providing top-notch services.
Beginning in September 2013, and in addition to our work at the Morton High School Freshman Center in Cicero, YC will be expanding our school-based counseling services (SBC) to two new Berwyn schools: Morton West High School and Freedom Middle School. Our professional counselors will be providing 1:1 and group counseling to about 250 more students within those school environments. Students who are struggling with trauma-related life events, are victims of or witnesses to violence at home or in the community, have significant anger control issues, are underperforming academically, and/or have high truancy will be eligible to participate in SBC services. Over the past two years, our SBC services have had a good track-record of improving student attendance rates, academic performance, classroom behavior and desire to learn, as well as reductions of school disciplinary incidents and student suspensions.
Now entering our third year of the Berwyn Community School Initiative (CSI), YC and CSI community partners have supported nearly 600 middle school kids with academic assistance, social skills development, and enrichment activities after school four days each week throughout the school year. The CSI has involved over 1,000 parents and community residents in new activities designed to create better awareness of and access to more than 45 local health and wellness services. So far this school year YC has record-breaking student enrollment and attendance at our after-school enrichment programs at Freedom and Heritage Middle Schools.
Also beginning in September 2013, YC will continue its role as a teaching/training organization for aspiring social workers, teachers, and juvenile justice professionals. We currently have 25 Master’s and Bachelor’s level college interns involved in YC program activities representing 7 different universities in the Chicago-metro area.
As always, thanks for your continued interest and support of Youth Crossroads, Inc.
Welcome to our reconstructed website! We hope you find our services and activities easily accessible and that you visit this site frequently for interesting updates and useful information.
Youth Crossroads, Inc. (YC) provides youth development and intervention services to thousands of young people and their families each year. Our continued ability to successfully guide, support and inspire local kids is dependent on the quality and diversity of our relationships with the greater community.
YC plays an important role in improving conditions so that local youth and families may thrive. Each year we collaborate with over 100 other social service agencies, schools, universities, government and police departments, court systems, health and wellness facilities, businesses, civic groups and churches to maximize all available resources for the benefit of young people.
Collaboration is a key to accomplishing anything of sustainable value for the communities we serve. Communication and trust among community collaborators are keys to positive outcomes for these communities. Positive outcomes of effective collaboration are measured by improvements in the health, safety, education and civic engagement of the population.
Over the past several years I have come to better appreciate the African phrase “it takes a village to raise a child”. I have seen first-hand how powerful the force for positive change can be when a variety of institutions, organizations, government and citizens come together with a common purpose.
The Cicero Youth Task Force (www.cytf.org) is an outstanding example of local community collaboration resulting in positive change. This volunteer coalition, with a membership of over 200 people representing 40 local organizations has worked together over the past ten years to address some of the community’s most urgent issues. Some of the results of this effort include: a dramatic reduction in community violence and gang-related shootings over the past six years from 37 shootings in 2007 to 2 shootings in 2012; a 41% reduction in Cicero teen pregnancies over that time period; , a 160% increase in early childhood education enrollment; a 50% increase in out-of-school time structured activities for Cicero children and teens;, and a significant rise in opportunities for parents, youth and families to engage in positive community-wide events.
YC has been an integral part of the CYTF over those years and has been directly involved in providing some of the services leading to those impressive results. Perhaps more important are the benefits YC has received from its involvement in the CYTF effort. As part of the larger CYTF coalition, YC gained new opportunities (and resources) to expand programs, serve more youth and parents, develop deeper relations with schools and other social service agencies, and strengthened its influence in the community regarding youth issues.
We are grateful to be part of this effort as well as thankful for all our community partners who work with us for the benefit of local kids and families. It is our goal to continue these efforts of collaboration and to seek out new opportunities for common purpose.
YC Executive Director
I am excited to report that Youth Crossroads, Inc. (YC) achieved some important milestones in this past year of service to local young people and their families. We worked with more youth (3,349) more often (33,630 hours of direct service) with more resources (nearly $1,000,000 in annual revenues and 42 professional staff and interns) than in any other year of YC’s 38-year history.
Our clinical services, including individual and group counseling, school and community-based crisis intervention services, juvenile justice system diversion programs, case management and referral services helped nearly 1,000 kids and families achieve a more stable and healthy life.
Our youth development services reached over 2,300 young people and community residents last year through after-school academic enrichment programs, Youth Leadership Program (YLP) activities and a wide variety of community outreach and educational workshops. We are so proud of our YLP teen leaders, who designed and conducted a range of service projects to benefit their peers and community, from bullying prevention workshops, to “Be Active Stay Healthy” family events, to teen depression education seminars.
YC’s commitment to collaboration and broad-based community engagement for the benefit of local youth and families has never been stronger. This past year we partnered with 115 different community organizations including government agencies, police and justice departments, school districts, health and social service providers, businesses, civic groups, churches, private foundations, and the United Way. We deeply value these partnerships and recognize their importance in our ability to carry out the YC mission: “…to act in the best interest of youth, guiding them through life’s challenges, and inspiring them to discover new opportunities for personal development, healthy relationships, and positive community involvement.”
To all in our community who advocate, educate, and empower our young people to reach their fullest potential, thank you and keep up your important, vital work!