With over 200 group volunteer projects listed on our calendar each month, it’s easy to lose track of the many opportunities that Chicago Cares operates outside of our ongoing programing. An area that is especially exciting is the Youth in Service (YIS) program.

YIS empowers youth to make positive changes in their communities through well-rounded volunteer service programs touching the areas of poverty, aging, human services and the environment. We believe that by educating youth on social issues, engaging them in meaningful service and empowering them to be agents of change, we are fostering a new generation of leaders grounded in the ethic of community involvement. In just 5 years, our program has introduced over 20,000 Chicago youth to volunteerism.

Over the past month we’ve been excited to be able to participate the Summer of Service and Leadership, a service learning initiative with Chicago Public Schools. This four-week summer program cultivates a service mindset and leadership skills in students. Many schools participate and Chicago Cares coordinated projects for King College Prep, Amundsen High School, Whitney Young Magnet High School, Prosser Academy High School, Westinghouse High School and for 2 programs at Solorio Academy High School.

During the Summer of Service and Leadership, Chicago Cares builds 1 service project a week for each individual school, over the course of 3 weeks. The first week focuses on seniors, the second calls attention to hunger issues and the final week highlights the environment. During the last week of the 4 week program, schools choose whether to work with us in planning another service project for their group or spend the final week in the classroom working on reflection and other leadership skills.

To find out what kind of impact our partnership with students participating in the Summer of Service and Leadership had, we decided to ask them about their experience. Here’s what they had to say.

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