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    Connecting, inspiring and empowering Chicago's future leaders

    The Chicago Ideas Youth Program seeks to serve and empower the next generation of changemakers in our city. Now entering its 7th year, the goal of Chicago Ideas Youth is to provide a platform where Chicago high school students can seek out new opportunities, internalize a leadership mentality, and gain exposure to ideas that will spark their desire and enlarge their capacity to change the world around them. Programmatically, CI Youth operates on two levels: an intensive, two year long ambassador program that serves a cohort of 35, and a city-wide initiative that serves 1,900 Chicago teenagers through events-based programming.

    Speaker Connects

    These events directly connect the youth with Chicago Ideas Week speakers, providing students with opportunities for deeper engagement, knowledge and interaction.

    Professional Events

    Chicago Ideas Youth have the opportunity to attend three professional events over the course of the year. At all of our events, students engage with a panel, have multiple one-on-one mentoring interactions, and participate in open networking all with our diverse community of professionals.

    Youth Ambassador Program

    The Chicago Ideas Youth Ambassador program provides 35 high school students from underrepresented communities in Chicago direct access to Chicago Ideas Week programming, a year-long event schedule of behind the-scenes access to companies and organizations, and a direct pipeline to our globally recognized speakers for more intimate small group interactions.

    Ideas Day

    Ideas Day is a unique, youth-driven initiative designed to bring action-driven events to students in their communities. By putting the Chicago Ideas programming model into the hands of Chicago high school students, these students in turn create impactful programs for their peers, and hone their leadership, professional, and problem-solving skills, all the while exposing their classmates to transformational ideas around the themes that matter most to them.

    Chicago Ideas Youth Resources

    Chicago Ideas Youth is committed to empowering youth across the city of Chicago. As we activate our students, we are also committed to creating resources that make those activation models replicable and available to educators, youth partners, and individuals across the non-profit sector. Explore and download our reports, curriculum, and facilitator guides below.

    More Than Just Events

    Members of the Chicago Ideas Youth program are mentored and celebrated. We recently gathered at Nike Chicago to recognize our 2017 Youth Ambassadors.
    Read More

    Chicago Ideas Youth Partners

    Chicago Ideas Youth would not be possible without our Sponsors, Partner Organizations and generous Lab Hosts.

    Chicago Ideas Youth Lab Hosts

    Thank you to all of our Lab hosts for providing our students incredible behind the scenes access:

    • Equity Commonwealth: Real Estate in Action
    • Comedy Sportz: Improv + Communication Skillz
    • PWC: Budgeting, Consumer Fraud, and Financial Planning
    • IDEO: Design Thinking and Ideation
    • mHUB: Think it, Make it, Break it, Better it: Product Creation in a Manufacturing Makerspace
    • Ballot Ready: Let’s Throw A Ballot Party!
    • Shedd Aquarium: Exploring Marine Biology
    • IIT: Architecture, Design, and Constructing your World
    • Google: We’re Not In Chicago Anymore...AI Exploration with Cardboard
    • DMC, Inc.: ALL the Engineering! A Hands-On Deep Dive into Engineering and Consulting with DMC, Inc.
    • Lincoln Park Zoo: Animal Behavior, Technology, and Observation
    • Lifeway Kefir: Cooking and Fermenting at The Chopping Block
    • Chicago Botanic Gardens: The Farm on Ogden
    • American Institute of Architects: Students and Architects Weigh In on School Safety
    • The Chopping Block: How To Make Homemade Pasta
    • Ink Factory: Visual Note-Taking
    • Gravity Studios: Recording and Mixing Tracks in the Music Studio
    • Urbanime @ Columbia College: The Graphic Novel and How to Be Your Own Superhero

    Chicago Ideas Youth Partner Organizations

    • 826Chi
    • After School Matters
    • Big Shoulders Fund
    • Chicago Learning Exchange
    • Chicago Public Schools
    • Chicago Tech Academy
    • Chicago Youth Centers
    • Embarc
    • Gary Comer Youth Center
    • Guitars Over Guns
    • Horizons for Youth
    • iMentor
    • Instituto Health and Science Academy
    • Mikva Challenge
    • Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship
    • UCAN
    • Urban Alliance
    • BAM
    • WOW
    • CICS
    • AUSL

    Sponsor Support

    Chicago Ideas Youth program is proudly supported by the following companies and organizations who share our commitment to supporting youth in Chicago:

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