There are 15,744 unaccompanied homeless youth in Chicago, according to the most recent count from Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. Nationally, there is growing recognition that partnering with young people, particularly youth of color and LGBTQ youth, is the fastest way to dramatically improve outcomes for young people experiencing housing instability and homelessness. Ending youth homelessness in Chicago is possible, especially when young people who have experienced homelessness are leading the way.
Through a new Youth Homelessness Innovation Fund, Polk Bros. Foundation and The Crown Family are collaboratively investing $500,000 to encourage new local momentum on an issue that has seen tremendous innovation nationally. The two foundations, both longtime supporters of efforts to prevent and end youth homelessness in Chicago, created the Fund earlier this year in coordination with the City and with support from the Chicago Community Trust.
“Nationally, there has been a focus on bringing young people with lived experience of homelessness into the center of this work, particularly youth of color and LGBTQ youth, who are disproportionately impacted,” says Polk Bros. Foundation Senior Program Officer Debbie Reznick. “I’ve been inspired by how other cities have brought young people to the table, to define what’s needed, to decide where resources go and to become leaders in the work. I believe the initiatives funded through the Youth Homelessness Innovation Fund will increase meaningful youth leadership here in Chicago, and help bring their expertise to the effort to end youth homelessness in our city.”
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