CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other city leaders on Monday announced a new “Rediscover Summer” campaign to encourage Chicago youths to take advantage of thousands of summer jobs and recreational programs this summer.

As part of the “My CHI. My Future” program launched by the city last year, the city is working with more than 200 community groups to offer employment, educational, and recreational opportunities across the city.

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Lightfoot said more than 200,000 opportunities are available for Chicago youth this summer through “My CHI. My Future.”

The mayor said such programming is especially valuable for children after struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic for more than a year.

“Given how tortuous this year has been for young people, and that we are making steady progress in our COVID-19 journey every day, thanks to vaccines becoming more widely available, and now offering it to children as young as 12, it’s essential that we create pathways for them to get out of the house to reengage in person and rediscover their interests and passions this summer,” she said. “All of our city’s youth, no matter t heir circumstances, deserve to have access to this kind of nurturing out-of-school environment, and this summer we’re going to make this a reality.”

The mayor said the program includes more than 23,000 paid jobs through the “One Summer Chicago” program, and thousands more activities through the Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Public Library, Chicago Park District, and other community partners.

“Our young people are the product of the adult ecosystem around them. These positive peers and caring adults outside of the home become the cheerleaders and dream keepers for our youth as they grow into all that they can be, especially during times of adversity and struggle,” she said.

Chicago Park District Superintendent and CEO Mark Kelly said the park district also is offering 3,000 seasonal jobs for anyone age 16 and older, Applications are due by May 30th at chicagoparkdistrict.com/jobs.

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The Park District also is offering various day camps, clubs, fitness programs, and arts programs this summer.

The Park District also will host 10 teen lounges at park district fieldhouses, offering free WiFi, video games, and computers.

On Friday evenings from July 9 through Aug. 27, the Park District also will host the “Summer Kickback” program, featuring food, music, and esports programs at park facilities.

“You don’t make change in the city if you don’t all roll up your sleeves and jump in together to make a difference in these kids’ lives,” Kelly said.

Meantime, CPS is offering more than 93,000 academic opportunities this summer, including:

  • Preview to Preschool and Kickoff to Kindergarten: To help students get schooling off on the right foot, around ten thousand of our youngest learners will be able to attend a Preview to Preschool or Kickoff to Kindergarten program. Specifically for kindergarten, CPS, DFSS, City Sister Agencies, and GOEC will also embark upon a robust enrollment and recruitment campaign, aligning with hyper-local efforts to leverage resources.  
  • Programs for incoming Freshmen and Sophomores: All of CPS high schools will have the option to host month long preparation sessions for their sophomores and incoming freshmen. 
  • Expanded Capacity for Diverse Learners & English Learners: The number of diverse learners eligible for CPS’ Extended School Year program will double and be expanded by two weeks, and capacity for programs that support English Learners will double.
  • Out of School time funds: All schools have received out of school time funds so they can design and offer summer and after school programs that match their students’ interests.
  • Meantime, starting Monday, Chicago Public Library branches will resume their pre-COVID hours and operate at an increased capacity. After being closed for all of the last year, YOUMedia centers will be re-opening to teens.
  • “As summer approaches, it is critical that our libraries increase access to the knowledge, technology and inspiring spaces that Chicagoans need and deserve, including YOUmedia spaces for young people to explore their interests and passions,” said Chicago Public Library Commissioner Chris Brown. “We all recognize, libraries, like parks and schools, are community hubs and heartbeats of our neighborhoods, and we’re looking forward to working with our My CHI. My Future partners this summer as we deliver the world-class programs that Chicagoans have come to expect at the library.”
  • The city’s libraries also will offer a wide range of free art programs and summer learning challenges to help avoid the so-called “summer slide,” when kids can suffer declines in academic skills while school is not in session for three months.

Other summer youth opportunities include: 

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  • Chicago Housing Authority’s specialized summer programs including a filmmaking class in partnership with DePaul and the Neighborhood Youth Corps with the Chicago Police Department. 
  • Youth 16 and up looking for free work readiness in Chicago can connect with one of over 20 Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership youth service providers in the city to get career coaching, resume writing, interview preparation, and internship and job placement services at https://chicookworks.org/services/youth-programs/
  • Chicago Department of Public Health’s Playstreets returning with live, virtual programs, grab & go activity kits, and more. 
  • Department of Assets, Information and Services in partnership with the Chicago Park District will offer a 12-week “Fishing on the Jetty” program for youth to learn to fish, and learn about the ecosystem and the history of the Chicago River.   
  • After School Matters paid summer programs delivering high quality, hands-on, project-based apprenticeship programs in a variety of content areas, including the arts, communications and leadership, sports, and STEM. Application for summer programs are open now at afterschoolmatters.org. 

To see the full slate of summer programs, visit explore.mychimyfuture.org.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff