Y.O.U. provides opportunity for success


Emily Roth

Y.O.U. says stay in school.
Youth Opportunity United (Y.O.U.) is a youth development agency that offers programs for high school students that help teach students and their families how to positively navigate school resources and offers many after school programming in the Evanston school districts.
One initiative Y.O.U. focuses on is called the Stay in School program in partnership with Exelon and United Way. Juniors and seniors along with their parent or guardian attend workshops that provide social services, leadership opportunities and academic tutoring to ensure that students stay in school and graduate high school.
“Essentially, the program is trying to build the skills and self confidence for kids, so that at the end of the program they can acquire a summer internship through one of the participating Stay in School nonprofits,” says Ellen Muench, manager of Program Innovation at Y.O.U. “The end goal is for all the kids in the program to get an internship and start to build their future pathway through that experience.”
“It opens up your circle and it exposes you to different events and opportunities,” adds senior Joshua Pearson.
The Y.O.U. program also strives to help students take advantage of the many resources in high school and utilize them. Students participating in Y.O.U. programs also learn how to advocate for themselves.
“I’ve been in Y.O.U. since I was in third grade,” says senior Qurshiana Leslie. “If I hadn’t participated in Y.O.U. I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”
According to Y.O.U.’s website, since 1971, Y.O.U. has served over 18,000 youth and is currently in the process of fund raising 15 million dollars to open a new center in the fall of 2016 which will be located across from ETHS, at 1911 Church St.
This organization has been growing greatly, now serving over 1,500 youth throughout the Skokie and Evanston school district. At the new building opening in Evanston, there will be a garden, demonstration kitchen, and a maker lab that allows youth the opportunity to create their own inventions.
“It will be nice to have a space that’s really close to the high schoo,” states Emily Roth, associate director of ETHS CONNECT, a Y.O.U. program.