Youth Programs

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Because Children Deserve Every Chance for Success

What is the difference between a child that grows up to be a healthy, independent, contributing member of our community and a child who doesn’t? 

A safe, stable, and nurturing environment. Where a child ends up typically has everything to do with where they began. All children have risk factors and protective factors. At the Youth and Family Center, we work to help strengthen the protective factors, and ensure that the risk factors don’t dictate a child’s future. Our approach is designed to increase the skills, resources, and support local children and parents need to overcome challenges.

At the Youth and Family Center, we provide programs and recreational activities in a safe, stable, and nurturing environment that improve first and second chances for success, so all children can have a bright future.

Freedom School

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The CDF Freedom Schools® program aims to support our country’s most marginalized learners. CDF Freedom Schools sites serve predominantly low-income children of color.

This added support for the children in the Near North Side communities can drastically improve their educational outcomes. Before school, after-school, and summer learning opportunities complement the traditional school day in a number of ways, providing a range of academic and social-emotional support that extend the impact of the school day. In 2019, nearly 85 percent of Freedom Schools participants either improved or maintained their reading skills over the course of the six-week program and avoided the summer learning loss often suffered by children not participating in summer enrichment.

The program will be offered free of charge to the Near North Side community. It will also be conducted in partnership with local Universities and will offer internships and volunteer opportunities to collegiate students looking to create positive change and impact in our region.

About the Children’s Defense Fund

The mission of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) is to ensure every child a healthy start, a head start, a fair start, a safe start and a moral start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. The CDF Freedom Schools® program provides summer and after-school enrichment through a research-based and multicultural program model that supports K-12 scholars and their families through five essential components: high quality academic and character-building enrichment; parent and family involvement; civic engagement and social action; intergenerational servant leadership development; and nutrition, health and mental health.

After School Program

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Learning continues after the bell at the Youth and Family Center. Our goal is to provide a safe, nurturing and engaging learning environment for children in the community. With great student-to-teacher ratios and experienced and loving staff, we are committed to not only caring for youth, but also their families. We believe a quality learning experience decreases the risk of youth becoming involved in unproductive behaviors and sets the tone for their future success.


At the Youth and Family Center we believe that:

  1. Building kids’ strengths leads to long term success
  2. Children learn best through play and exploration
  3. Family involvement is key to a child’s success
Register your child today! 
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Providing educational and recreational experiences comes naturally to us. Our dedicated staff have years of experience in after school settings, traditional classrooms, and as leaders in school systems.

In our programs, each student receives:

  • Love, respect, and understanding
  • A healthy snack
  • Homework help
  • Recreational activities
  • Technology classes
  • Drama, Dance and Art opportunities
  • and a whole lot more!

Our program is designed for kids in kindergarten through 8th grade. We operate Monday-Friday from 3:30pm to 6 p.m. 

Contact us for more information on our youth programs: