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New Program Will Help South, West Side Teens Stay Safe This Summer — And It’s Hiring Youths

Youth will be paired with community groups at safe events with free food, DJs and more. The community groups are hiring.

Breakthrough is one of the groups participating in the Summer Kickback Series.
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CHICAGO — Teens on the South and West sides have a new opportunity to find fun, safe activities this summer.

Community groups from across Chicago are teaming up with the city for the Summer Kickback Series, which launched Friday. It’s an initiative to provide safe spaces, programs, events and other opportunities for youths 14-19 in 15 of Chicago’s community areas on the South and West sides, according to a Mayor’s Office news release.

Young people who participate can look forward to weekly community nights held by the groups that partnering with the city. The events will be held Fridays through Aug. 27, with some featuring DJs, food, esports tournaments and a traveling mural, according to the city.

Youths at the Friday events will also be encouraged to share their ideas about what their neighborhoods need.

“Connecting our youth with safe, engaging, and empowering opportunities throughout the summer is critical to providing every possible pathway to success,” Mayor Lightfoot said in the news release. 

Through the Summer Kickback Series, 15 community-based organizations from the South and West sides will each hire 10-20 teens and two young adults to create a Kickback Street Team. The jobs will last nine week. Those hired will work with local groups to promote youth-focused opportunities, do vaccine advocacy work and produce Summer Kickback events in their own communities. 

Teens and young adults in the program will receive online vaccine ambassador training from Malcolm X College. Additionally, the Park District will train them how to encourage community members to remain safe from COVID-19 and how they can get vaccinated.

These community groups are part of the program:

  • Project Exploration: Austin 
  • CHI-RISE: Auburn Gresham 
  • New Eclipse Community Alliance: Back of the Yards 
  • Southwest Organizing Project: Chicago Lawn 
  • Community Assistance Programs: Englewood 
  • Breakthrough: East Garfield Park 
  • The BASE Chicago: West Garfield Park 
  • BUILD Inc.: Humboldt Park 
  • Gary Comer Youth Center: Greater Grand Crossing 
  • The Alliance 98: Little Village 
  • Chicago Youth Centers: North Lawndale 
  • Girls Inc. of Chicago: Roseland 
  • Lost Boyz Inc.: South Shore 
  • Teamwork Englewood: West Englewood 
  • Phalanx Family Services: West Pullman  

Funding was provided by an anonymous donor and will help to hire up to 238 teens and young adults for the summer, according to the city.

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