Youth Guidance creates and implements school-based programs that enable children to overcome obstacles, focus on their education, and ultimately, succeed in school and life. New Independent Sector member Youth Guidance is a leading provider of outcomes-driven programs and capacity-building initiatives, directly serving over 14,000 youth, while reaching hundreds more parents, schools, and local communities. We talked with Nacole Milbrook, their Chief Program Officer, to learn more about the Chicago-based nonprofit.

IS: Tell us about your organization’s areas of interest, the communities you serve, and how your work helps to advance an equitable and healthy sector and nation where all people can thrive.

NM: Youth Guidance programs fill a growing gap of accessible, stigma-free mental health and social-emotional programs that bring a combination of youth development, clinical practice, and research validation to an important developmental stage in life: adolescence. Our programs differentiate themselves as holistic, culturally responsive, student-centric lifelines that meet the needs of the communities we serve. At Youth Guidance, we see a bright and successful future for every elementary and high school student. Because we believe that success in school is not only possible, but should be achieved and celebrated, we are present in the schools to facilitate an environment that truly engages students in the learning process, and through careful guidance, enables them to realize their full potential and graduate with a meaningful plan for successfully managing life.

We are serving over 14,000 students and are fully operating at over 200 schools throughout Chicagoland, Waukegan, Boston, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Dallas, and Washington, DC. Throughout our community, we are able to deliver dynamic, high-impact programs that destigmatize mental health interventions and create emotionally safe spaces for students to find their voice, affirm their narrative, develop positive peer relationships, and become leaders in their schools and communities.

IS: What are your organization’s core programs that support the community you serve and help strengthen the nonprofit sector?

NM: Youth Guidance’s Becoming A Man program (BAM) is a school-based group counseling program that guides boys and young men in 7th to 12th grades to learn, internalize, and practice social cognitive skills, make responsible decisions for their future, and become positive members of their school and community. BAM integrates clinical theory and practice, men’s rites of passage work, and a dynamic approach to youth engagement. BAM has six core values: Integrity, Accountability, Self-Determination, Respect for Womanhood, Visionary Goal-Setting, and Positive Anger Expression.

Read the full article about youth development by Lindsay Marcal at Independent Sector.