Youth Development
The Kenneth W. Watson Youth Development Programs
In memory of Ken Watson (1930-2010), an internationally recognized expert in adoption practice and youth development. After serving in the Marines, Ken worked for Chicago Child Care Society for 34 years as Director of Foster Care and then Assistant Executive Director. He mentored young people even after retiring, giving them hope for their future through a caring adult relationship. This memorial was established in 2020 by his life-long friend, Dr. Kenneth Shine.
After-School Programs

The time immediately following school hours is a time when a lack of constructive activity or supervision due to a parent’s working schedule can lead to risk-taking behavior. Instead, children are brought into an educational and safe environment with activities such as homework help, games centered on STEM lessons, literacy through creative writing, visual and performing arts, character development, and socioemotional learning, life skills training, and more. Many programs also provide support services to families of participating children.

After-school programs include Arts and Culture, Center-Based After School, Enrichment, 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CLCC), and Sustainable Community Schools.

Parent Mentoring

Parents of students in our 21st Century Community Learning Center Schools volunteer at their child’s school to provide extra eyes, ears, and hands in the classroom. Mentors undergo leadership and tutoring training before being assigned to a classroom to work one-on-one or in small groups of students. The program not only supports children in the classroom but also provides leadership and professional development training for the parent. After volunteering for 100 hours, the parent mentor qualifies for a stipend.

Summer Camp Programs

Summer camps keep students engaged and safe during the long break from school. Some are offered in partnership with the local parks department while others are held at the centers. Curriculum changes year to year and can vary based on what resources are nearby. Past summer camp activities include recreation activities such as swimming and yoga, arts and media projects, activism work in their local community, learning about history, and more.

Student Mentoring

Mentoring and academic assistance is available to elementary and high school students who have the desire to attend college or trade school, stay goal-oriented, and reach their highest potential. Mentors assist participants with academic support, social development, college and career exposure choices, financial literacy, parenting as a student, and many other aspects of career and life preparation that students find challenging.

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