With Chicago set to host NBA All-Star for the first time in more than three decades, our city will play host to the basketball world's biggest stars. In addition to marquee oncourt play and fan activations, NBA All-Star will feature a series of community programs, events and special experiences designed to engage young people and make a lasting impact in Chicago neighborhoods long after All-Star 2020 comes to an end.
In November 2019, the NBA and the Bulls teamed up to launch the first-ever NBA All-Star Youth Leadership Council in partnership with After School Matters, Chicago CRED and Youth Guidance. Built around the NBA and Bulls' shared belief that the experiences, perspectives and voices of young people should be at the center of our All-Star efforts, the Youth Leadership Council is comprised of 20 high school students from five neighborhoods on Chicago's South and West Sides - Auburn Gresham, Austin/North Lawndale, Englewood, Roseland and West Humboldt Park.
The Youth Leadership Council brings young leaders in each neighborhood together to share their perspectives, discuss the unique needs of their communities, and ultimately collaborate to create a youth-led project that will shape the legacy of All-Star 2020. Following All-Star, they will continue to meet weekly to plan and bring their projects to life in the spring of 2020 with the support of the NBA, the Bulls, Chicago CRED, After School Matters, and Youth Guidance.
During NBA All-Star, members of the All-Star Youth Leadership Council will participate in the NBA Voices Youth Summit, where they will have the opportunity to share their perspectives and project visions with a group of civic leaders, NBA and WNBA players and legends, and other youth leaders from across Chicago.
Over the last few months, each neighborhood team has met weekly to share their personal experiences and deepen their understanding of the unique challenges facing youth in their neighborhood. "Being on the NBA All-Star Youth Leadership Council gives me a platform so I can be a voice for young people in my community," said Teyonna L., a senior from Auburn Gresham. "The council reassures me that nothing is too "difficult" for change."
Facilitated by trained youth development staff, these weekly sessions create space for youth leaders to discuss issues, conduct research, meet with community leaders and brainstorm opportunities and strategies to effect change. Youth Leadership Council members have explored issues ranging from mental wellness and processing trauma, to food insecurity, gun violence and the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color.
In addition to the weekly neighborhood meetings, Youth Leadership Council members have convened as a full group for council meetings, a Bulls game and enrichment activities. In January, the youth leaders visited the Greater Chicago Food Depository where they participated in a workshop exploring the root causes of food insecurity and rolled up their sleeves to sort and pack food donations for Chicagoans in need. Bulls ambassadors Horace Grant, Bob Love and Mickey Johnson have each had a chance to meet with the Youth Council and share their unique local perspectives and experiences.
The Youth Leadership Council is part of the NBA's season-long community initiative with the Bulls supporting youth and families across Chicagoland. Each month, the NBA and the Bulls have teamed up to organize community engagement opportunities in partnership with SocialWorks Chicago, the Chicago Housing Authority, Youth Guidance, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), After School Matters, Chicago CRED, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and the Center on Halsted.
After School Matters
After School Matters engages nearly 19,000 Chicago teens each year in world-class programs in almost every neighborhood of Chicago, and in every interest area imaginable. Our programs instill confidence in teens, provide a sense of community, and contribute to their personal and academic success, all while addressing the challenges Chicago youth face on a daily basis. Since 1991, After School Matters has offered more than 350,000 opportunities in after-school and summer programs in the arts, communications and leadership, STEM and sports. Programs take place throughout the city at Chicago public high schools, Chicago Park District and Chicago Public Library locations, community organizations, downtown at the Gallery 37 Center for the Arts, in Belmont Cragin at our Michael and Karyn Lutz Center for After School Matters and soon at our Gately building in the Pullman/Roseland neighborhood in spring 2020. For more information, visit www.afterschoolmatters.org.
Youth Guidance, founded in 1924, creates and implements programs that enable youth to succeed in school and in life. Our success is rooted in helping youth know they are valued and empowering them to reach their potential. We proudly serve more than 13,000 students and families through our innovative programs that include BAM, WOW, Youth Workforce Development, Parent & Family Engagement, Counseling and more. Our highly lauded BAM program continues to have a powerful impact in Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle with plans to keep expanding to meet demand. Our WOW program, modeled after BAM, works with more than 2,400 young women with plans to grow. Our highly trained staff works with schools, parents and families to meet kids where they are—physically within schools, socially and emotionally—and help them break cycles of violence, overcome life and academic obstacles, make positive choices, and remain on the right path towards life success. For more information, visit www.youth-guidance.org.
Chicago CRED is an anti-violence initiative working to achieve a transformative reduction in homicides and shootings in Chicago. CRED, which stands for Create Real Economic Destiny, was launched in 2016 by Emerson Collective and works with men most likely to be the victims or perpetrators of gun violence. Chicago CRED takes a holistic approach to reducing gun violence, working in the communities most impacted by the crisis, providing resources for strategic violence reduction efforts, including workforce development, trauma-informed counseling, life coaching, tutoring, housing, youth development, and more.