Reimagine Youth Development Program – Full Description

Illinois’ youth and families face a staggering array of economic demands and social challenges that have worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic: devasting health concerns, lack of employment, education loss, mental health issues, social support disruption, and increased family and community violence. In Chicago, during the COVID lockdown, firearm violence increased by over 50% from pre-pandemic levels. Discrete neighborhoods in Chicago and Greater Illinois Municipalities are experiencing concentrated and perpetual firearm violence that contributes to the increasing firearm homicide rates. Within these neighborhoods, firearm violence is highly concentrated amongst teens and young adults who have chronic exposure to the risk of violence, criminal legal system involvement, and related trauma.

As Illinois continues to both address and recover from the pandemic, there are increased pressures to address high rates of crime and violence in our communities. Out-of-school-time (after-school and summer) programming has been identified as a key strategy to make a difference in areas such as academic achievement, social-emotional development, and the avoidance of delinquent or high-risk behavior while helping young people to build upon their assets and become productive members of society. Parents and communities support out-of-school programs, in part, because the programs address the need for safe environments for their children and youth during after-school hours.

Youth development services, including out-of-school programming, are an integral part in addressing community violence, specifically firearm violence. Due to rising rates of firearm violence, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Reimagine Public Safety Act (RPSA) (430 ILCS 69). The RPSA calls for a comprehensive approach to reducing firearm violence through targeted, integrated behavioral health services and economic opportunities. It also created the Office of Firearm Violence Prevention (OFVP) in the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), which has authority over this effort.

RPSA calls for a three-pronged service strategy in Chicago: Violence Prevention, Youth Development, and High-Risk Youth Intervention services. Three distinct NOFOS covering these services will be made available to eligible communities as described in Section A3 below. The Violence Prevention funding notice was released on February 2nd, 2022 and is due on March 9th. This Reimagine Youth Development opportunity is the second direct service NOFO to be released. The third is planned to be released on February 16th, 2022 and will fund High-Risk Youth Intervention services programs.

Eligible communities outside of Chicago, known to the OFVP as Greater Illinois Municipal service areas as described in Section A3 below, are required to have a Local Advisory Council (LAC) provide recommendations on service needs for their communities. The OFVP is making RYD services available in advance of these recommendations in time for the summer months. Subsequent NOFOs are planned for Greater Illinois Municipal service areas.

The goal of the Reimagine Youth Development program (RYD) is to provide youth with safe environments and caring adults to guide them toward educational success, to empower them with the social and emotional skills necessary to forge paths of healthy development and disengagement from high-risk behaviors.

The RYD will provide engaging social, physical, and personal development activities intended to build resilience and the skills associated with healthy social, emotional, and identity development. The program provides the following menu of prevention-focused, youth development areas of service around which the RYD program will be designed:

  • Improving academic performance
  • Life skills education
  • Caregiver involvement
  • Recreation, sports, and cultural and artistic activities
  • Positive adult mentors
  • Service learning
  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Learning
  • Additional services appropriate to the youth and/or their community may also be provided.
Following is information about important aspects of the Reimagine Youth Development program, with which Applicants will be expected to comply:

AREAS OF SERVICES – Reimagine Youth Development program sites must develop their programming and activities utilizing the menu below of identified areas of service. Programs are strongly encouraged to develop programming around all areas of service, however that is not a requirement. Those programs who offer all of the areas outlined below will be the most competitive. Each youth must be afforded the opportunity to participate in all activities provided. Any activity conducted under the area of service selected must be intended to address one or more of the identified outcomes and corresponding developmental assets. Refer to Section A.6.k Program Evaluation, for information regarding measurement of these activities.

The identified areas of service, the outcomes they are designed to achieve, and the developmental assets that are associated with them are as follows:

Improving Academic Performance — This includes time to do homework, tutoring in basic skills, and enrichment programs that encourage creativity.

  • Participant will maintain or improve school attendance.
  • Participant will maintain or improve grades or progress reporting in school.
  • Participants will develop or improve career aspirations and choices.
Developmental assets
  • Participants are actively engaged in learning.
  • Participants are motivated and strive to do well in school
  • Participants are optimistic about a personal future and career
Life Skills Education— This encompasses training and education that promotes the development of healthy lifestyles and encourages avoiding risk-taking behaviors in the areas of alcohol and/or substance use, criminal activity, violence and sexual activity.

  • Participants will increase knowledge of harmful effects of substance use.
  • Participants will increase knowledge of harmful effects of unprotected and early sexual activity and pregnancy.
  • Participants will increase anger management and conflict resolution skills.
  • Participants will increase decision making and problem-solving skills.
  • Participants will increase healthy nutritional choices
Developmental assets
  • Participants believe it is important not to use alcohol and other drugs.
  • Participants believe it is important not to be sexually active.
  • Participants seek to resolve conflict nonviolently.
  • Participants know how to plan ahead and make choices.
Caregiver Involvement – Programs must provide opportunities for parents, guardians, and/or caregivers to meet with staff to discuss their children’s activities and to participate in activities that strengthen their adult/child bonds and community involvement.

  • Increase in caregiver/adult monitoring of academic performance.
  • Increase in understanding of child and adolescent developmental stages and appropriate expectations.
  • Increase in positive and effective communication with children and teens regarding alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, sexual activity, abstinence, and other life skills.
  • Increase structured activities that promote positive family interaction.
Developmental assets
  • Caregiver is actively involved in helping the child succeed in school.
  • Caregiver understands child and adolescent developmental stages and have appropriate expectations.
  • Families have clear and consistent rules and consequences.
  • Caregivers and children communicate positively regarding alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, sexual activity, and other life skills.
  • Caregivers foster resilience.
  • Caregivers plan and spend time in structured activities that promote positive family interaction.
Recreation, Sports, and Cultural/Artistic Activities – This includes providing activities and arranging safe outlets for youth to try new skills and develop new interests, to build friendships, find their place in a group, and gain developmentally relevant experiences.

  • Provide opportunities for participants to engage in cultural enrichment and fine art activities.
  • Provide opportunities for participants to demonstrate sportsmanship and athletic skills.
  • Provide opportunities for participants to increase their level of activity.
  • Developmental assets Participants demonstrate sportsmanship.
  • Participants believe it is important to follow rules.
  • Participants respect the ability and contribution of others.
  • Participants engage in activities that foster creativity and spirituality.
  • Participants demonstrate positive relationships with peers.
Positive Adult Mentors – Programs must allow opportunities for youth to develop and maintain positive, sustained relationships with caring adults through mentoring and other programs that emphasize one-on-one interactions.

  • Increase support to youth during times of personal or social stress.
  • Increase support for decision making.
  • Increase access to support with academic tasks and/or homework.
  • Increase opportunities for career awareness and mentoring.
Developmental assets
  • Participants have a connection with a caring adult.
  • Participants believe they can be successful.
  • Participants believe they can make good decisions.
  • Participants believe they have a positive future.
Service-Learning Activities – Service-learning is a method of teaching and learning that connects classroom lessons with meaningful service to the community. Students build academic skills while strengthening communities through service. Service learning combines service tasks with structured, youth-driven opportunities that link the task to self-reflection, self-discovery, and the acquisition and comprehension of values, skills and knowledge content with service tasks.

  • Youth determine and meet real, defined community needs.
  • Youth learn beyond the classroom through active participation in service experiences.
  • Youth develop and use skills and knowledge in real-life situations.
  • Youth increase the amount of time spent to reflect by thinking, discussing and/or writing about service experiences.
  • Youth experience a sense of belonging to a community and an awareness of their responsibility to that community.
Developmental assets
  • Youth experience opportunities for experiential learning.
  • Youth are empowered to assume leadership roles.
  • Youth are involved in the decision-making process.
  • Youth place a high value in helping others.
  • Youth develop empathy for others.
  • Youth believes that his/her life has a purpose.
  • Youth engage in productive activities that build job and life skills and reinforce community-mindedness.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) – Students must develop the skills to solve problems and make sense of complex information. The skills developed in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) are crucial because they impact almost every aspect of life. Afterschool Applicants cultivate STEM curiosity in young people. Learning STEM skills better prepare students for school and future careers. These skills are useful in all careers, not just STEM careers.

  • Youth will demonstrate problem-solving skills within a scientific, mathematic, or technological context.
  • Youth will learn how to work in teams and help to build relationships.
  • Youth will develop the ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies.
  • Youth will be better prepared to enter the workforce.
Developmental assets
  • Improve attitudes toward learning.
  • Improve behavior, self-confidence and overall well-being.
  • Improve decision making skills.
  • Develop long-term academic improvement.
  • Develop time management and organization skills
  • Develop career interests
  • Improve math literacy and science knowledge.
  • Providers will evaluate these objectives and developmental assets through self-developed annual surveys administered to youth and their caregivers. The provider will report the results to the OFVP annually.
Program sites must be operational for 12 consecutive months for a minimum of 240 days and provide, on average, 3 hours of programming each day open, for a minimum of 720 hours. This will be demonstrated in the agency’s Youth Attendance Plan submitted as Attachment C2. A day/hour open is determined by recording attendance in the e-Cornerstone system. Refer to Appendix 11 for the Youth Attendance Plan forms, examples, and instructions. Please note that agencies may use ten (10) of the 240 days of program operation for staff training, however, the minimum hours of programming may not be less than 720. Programs must operate during out-of-school hours, based on the needs of the community. Programs should operate programming during the critically important late afternoon/early evening hours, from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Programs may operate later in the evening if a need is determined based on the community assessment. Agencies are encouraged to offer programming on Saturdays and Sundays, and during school breaks.