This January the Chicago Bears announced Chicago Youth Programs (CYP) as the winner of the 2021 Community All-Pros contest. The organization will receive a $102,000 grant from the Bears.
According to the Bears, the group was founded in 1984 and its mission is to improve the life opportunities and health of at-risk youth in low-income neighborhoods, primarily on the South and West sides of Chicago.
“Chicago Youth Programs is thrilled to have the support of the Chicago Bears as the 2021 Community All Pros Winner!” said Chicago Youth Programs Executive Director Cinaiya Stubbs. “One of the things that we will be able to accomplish with this support is the creation of a Student Success Fund to assist high school students with the financial burden that often comes with transitioning to their post-secondary paths.”
With the fund, the group said its high schoolers can now request support for campus visits, application fees, housing deposits, textbooks, and supplies. The group also added that such expenses are often not paid by financial aid or scholarships, which can be a significant barrier to a young person deciding to apply for college and moving forward on the path out of poverty.
The organization’s overall goal is for each child to complete the education they need to escape poverty and the associated health and social risks.
Their aim is to serve youth as early as possible, preferably by age three, and keep them engaged as they prepare to enter high school and eventually complete the secondary education of their choice.
In addition to helping serve the youth financially, the group also provides a strong holistic foundation for long-term success, helping youth avoid gang involvement, drug and underage alcohol use, and other unhealthy choices.
Programs fall within five houses that collectively make up CYP’s Community of Care: academic success, mentoring, social-emotional learning, health and wellness, and arts and culture.
CYP serves approximately 650 youth annually. On average, 77 percent of CYP youth are placed into higher education compared to less than 10 percent of their peers, with at least 60 percent completing college/trade school.
Over the past six years, 100 percent of youth have completed high school and, of these graduates, 98 percent have gone on to higher education.
More than 100 applications for the 2021 Community All-Pros contest were received and reviewed by an internal committee and narrowed down to 10 finalists before a group of season ticket holders selected CYP as the winner.
The Community All-Pros initiative began in 2019 in honor of the organization’s centennial season when the Bears recognized 10 different local charities nominated by fans, which each received a $100,000 Bears100 Community All-Pros grant, for a total of $1 million in donations.
Recipients in 2019 included Habitat for Humanity Chicago, Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley, Chicago Furniture Bank, Blessings in a Backpack, Hephzibah Children’s Association, GiGi’s Playhouse, Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans, Cradles to Crayons, Cara and Center for Enriched Living.
Devices 4 the Disabled was named the 2020 winner.
For more information, visit ChicagoBears.com/CommunityAllPros.
Joseph Phillips is the Sports Editor for the Chicago Crusader Newspaper. He is a Chicago native, who has been a sports writer for over 17 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q&A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].