BMO Harris, Allstate and YOUmedia give new meaning to “free and open” access for Chicagoland teens – with plans to launch five new locations by 2018.
Earlier this month corporate and civic leaders made an announcement that gives Chicago a lot to be excited about. In addition to its national attention, YOUmedia — funded with gifts to the Chicago Public Library Foundation — has just received a $1MM grant from BMO Harris, a $250K grant from Allstate, and support from the Mayor’s office. The unstoppable talent of our local teens will continue to thrive at even more YOUmedia locations thanks to our generous donors and a planned expansion that includes five NEW sites by 2018. With over 15% growth in teen participation (in only the past year), Grammy-Winners (Chance the Rapper), Grammy-Nominees (Noname), and 30+ emulated programs nation-wide; its clear that the Chicago Public Library’s homegrown program is teed up for an incredible year.
What are those library cards for anyway?
At YOUmedia, the short answer is: ‘depends what you’re into.’ With an emphasis on connected learning, digital media, and STEM learning, YOUmedia has flipped traditional engagement with the library on its head. Now, approximately 4,600 teens a year engage in projects across a variety of subjects, including graphic design, photography, video, music, 2D/3D design, STEM, and hands-on making. The program brings young adults, books, media, mentors and institutions together in dynamic spaces designed to inspire collaboration and creativity. And the cost to its participants? Free and open to all high-school age students with a valid library card!
Why is YOUmedia important?
YOUmedia was launched in 2009, based on research commissioned by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation – with the insight that early collaboration and investment in experience-based learning would benefit teens by keeping them engaged in school, pursue higher education, and prepare for careers in media and technology industries. How so, you might be wondering? Ten years ago, there was no such thing as a Social Media. Now its an entire field. Fifteen years ago, we would never have thought of teaching coding in schools. Now its a part of CPS curriculum. Thirty-some years ago, slam poetry didn’t have a name. Now its an entire movement.
In the words of Mayor Emanuel, “YOUmedia is about empowering teens by exposing them to technology and encouraging them to innovate and create—investing in this program is investing in our teens and the future of our city.”
YOUmedia is our investment. Not in what is needed today, but a cutting-edge foundation for our youth to grow from – taking technology, art, society and culture to the next level.
That’s our commitment here at the Chicago Public Library Foundation, and it’s what makes corporate leaders like BMO Harris and Allstate, and individual donors like yourselves, tremendous allies in providing opportunities that empower Chicago kids to achieve success in school and beyond.
“These significant gifts, combined with the increased support from the City, will enable us to expand our successful and vital programming for teens into more neighborhoods,” said Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon. “By offering teens their own space in our community libraries, we’re connecting our young people to technology, resources and mentors that encourage success in school and in life.