Developing within individuals, especially youth from under-served and/or under-resourced communities, a sense of self-esteem and dignity.
Chicago Voyagers (“CV”)
Problem being addressed: Poverty, abuse, trauma from gun violence, and lack of familial support have detrimental effects on adolescents, making them susceptible to delinquent behavior, substance abuse, and dropping out of school, all of which may have negative consequences extending into adulthood.
Project description: CV serves youth ages twelve to eighteen, ninety-five percent of whom are low-income and come from the most underserved communities of Chicago—Englewood, Belmont-Cragin, and North Lawndale. A network of twenty youth development agency partners works with CV to recruit and serve at-risk youth through trauma-informed care and programming. Adventure-therapy programs are provided year-round in one-day or multi-day increments and include: hiking and backpacking; overnight camping; canoeing; mountain biking; and more. During these adventures, youth participate in activities designed to engage and empower them, while assisting in the development of their life skills, such as bearing individual responsibility and being a team player. Additionally, journey sessions promote effective communication, emotional regulation, teamwork, and leadership that heals the anger, pain, and hopelessness experienced by these at-risk youth, affording new perspectives and challenges and allowing them to discover their own strength and confidence. For the duration of excursions, youth are accompanied by a CV leader, as well as two adults from the partner organization. Partner agency leaders have a long-term relationship with the youth and continue to reinforce the lessons learned during CV programming. Groups typically include nine or fewer youth.
To measure the program’s effectiveness in developing a sense of individual self-esteem and dignity, CV devised a youth satisfaction survey that gauges participants’ confidence on completing a journey experience. Participants can choose “disagree,” “unsure,” or “agree” for the statement: “I grew in my confidence.” The same survey offers open-ended questions asking participants to recall one thing they learned about themselves, as well as describe what ways they grew emotionally.
Connection to Values: By encouraging vigorous physical activity through challenging outdoor experiences, CV provides youth who are from disadvantaged backgrounds, have troubled childhoods, or experience emotional disorders the opportunity to develop self-esteem and self-sufficiency, while learning about self-sacrifice.
Amount of grant