Chicago Youth Service Corps

Program Description

The Chicago Youth Service Corps (CYSC) provides young Chicagoans with the opportunity to build leadership and life skills through activities that will make a positive impact in their communities. Participants analyze problems in their community, and then research and implement solutions to those problems. CYSC serves more than 880 participants each year, all of whom earn money for their participation in the program. CYSC was started by Mayor Lori Lightfoot in the Summer of 2020. 

Our Goals

  • Participating youth and young adults report a growth in civic-minded attitudes and behaviors
  • Participants report a growth in personal and leadership development
  • Participants complete a capstone project 

Guiding Principles

CYSC participants are dedicated to the following CYSC guiding principles:

  • Shape Chicago – Strengthening our neighborhoods, communities, and our city through civic leadership
  • Learn to Lead – Learning and reflecting on examples of strong leadership
  • Elevate Your Voice – Exploring our identities, passions, and goals as well as developing tools and opportunities to express ourselves within our communities
  • Lead to Learn – Improving oneself as well as others through continuous feedback and leadership challenges
  • Build Your Community & City – Working together in order to accomplish goals, broaden each other’s impacts, and make Chicago an even better place
  • Celebrate Yourself & Others – Celebrating the diverse backgrounds, experiences, and traditions that every young person brings to the Chicago Youth Service Corps and to the city of Chicago

Who does the program serve?

CYSC serves Chicago youth and young adults, ages 16-24 years old. At least 40 percent of participating youth identify with one of the following populations:

  • Individuals with disabilities
  • Individuals who are English Language learners
  • Individuals who are experiencing homelessness or are unstably housed
  • Individuals placed in the foster care system
  • Individuals who are justice-involved (e.g., parole, probation)
  • Individuals ages 16-24 who are out of school and not working 

What types of projects do youth work on?

CYSC civic engagement projects focus on a variety of areas including education, sustainability, mental health services, public art, and more. 

CYSC is a citywide partnership led by the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) with representatives from the Chicago Housing Authority, Chicago Transportation Authority, and City Colleges of Chicago. 

For more information about CYSC, email us at, or to apply for the program please visit