Youth Opportunities



CHA offers a number of afterschool and summer learning programs that provide public housing and HCV youth with opportunities to learn about college and careers, participate in paid internships and work experiences as well as community service projects, and develop employability skills. 

Youth Council

In 2016, CHA launched the Year of Youth campaign to increase youth engagement through several new and innovative initiatives, including the development of the CHA Youth Council in partnership with Mikva Challenge. Each summer, council members engage in an intensive leadership development, team-building and participatory action research internship, in which they develop recommendations for CHA decision makers. In addition, throughout the year, council members work to plan a youth-led summit for young people to share ideas and solutions on improving our city. Visit the Youth Council’s website to see their work from last summer.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Partnership

CHA is the first City of Chicago sister agency to participate in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Workplace Mentoring Program. CHA implemented the program beginning in January 2016 at CHA headquarters with students from John M Smyth Elementary School and CHA staff. The Workplace Mentoring Program provides a place for 4th through 6th grade students to build one-to-one relationships with caring mentors. Matches participate in activities with an intentional focus to increase social skills, develop self-esteem and new interests, and plan for the future. CHA expanded the program in the fall of 2016 to include Gary Comer High School to reach even more students and have a positive impact on their lives.


Chicago Park District

The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) partners with the Chicago Park District to provide a limited number of year-round vouchers to CHA public housing residents and Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) tenants. The voucher allows children between the ages of 6 and 12, to attend summer day camp and fall, winter and spring after school programs at any Chicago Park District location that offers these programs.* With a voucher, your cost per session is only $15 and the total cost for the year if a child attended all sessions would be $60 for each child – Extended Summer Day Camp and any Vacation Camp cost $5 per session. For more information on the camp voucher program, contact your FamilyWorks provider, LAC president, HCV regional office or the CHA Youth Park Voucher Hotline (for park district vouchers inquiries only) at 312.786.6656.

In addition to the vouchers, CHA partners with the Chicago Park District of offer the Counselor in Training Program and Windy Hoops, a year-round basketball league hosted Friday and Saturday nights in targeted communities across the city, including Altgeld Gardens and Phillip Murray Homes.

*For a list of the Chicago Park District’s recreational programs, dates and times, visit the Chicago Park District, call 312.742.PLAY (7529) or visit your local park.

The Chicago Department of Family & Support Services (DFSS)

CHA youth can access existing afterschool programs free of charge through CHA’s partnership with the Chicago Department of Family & Support Services (DFSS). Download a list of DFSS delegate agencies offering CHA afterschool programs here.

FamilyWorks Onsite Direct Youth Programs

FamilyWorks plays a vital role in connecting youth to appropriate engagement opportunities, along with resources and supports needed to foster the development of academic achievement. FamilyWorks also provides youth programming, which takes place in the afternoon and evening hours and during the spring and fall, at CHA developments. For more information, contact your FamilyWorks provider

CHA programs offered through the 2018 One Summer Chicago online application include:

  • Chicago Police Department Neighborhood Youth Corps introduces students to careers in law enforcement and offers positive interaction with police officers along with field trips, community service projects, and relationship building with peers. Students also attend workshops facilitated by community leaders and other professionals, and participate in group discussions on prevalent social issues. Participants can earn up to $1,196 for six weeks. Target Population: Ages 15 – 18; Number of Slots: 50; Dates: June 25 – August 3
  • Counselor in Training Program fosters leadership skills and offers practical work experience for teens at Chicago Park District locations. Participants earn $8.75/hour. Target Population: Age 15; Number of Slots: 40; Dates: June 25– August 3
  • Documentary Filmmaking for Girls is designed for students to become future filmmakers in documentary production. The program introduces students to the basic theory, aesthetic and technical skills required to create a documentary. In addition, the program takes place in a university setting where students learn valuable media skills (film/video) that provide a voice for social issues that concern them the most. Participants can earn up to $1,165 for six weeks. Target Population: HS Sophomores, Juniors & Seniors; Number of Slots: 20; Dates: June 25 – August 2
  • Game & Graphic Design prepares students to become future creators of experiential media and introduces them to design tools, such as interactive fiction, digital painting, digital audio, and 2D animation, to express their voice and experiences. Participants can earn up to $1,165 for six weeks. Target Population: HS Sophomores, Juniors & Seniors; Number of Slots: 10; Dates: June 25 – August 2
  • “Hammer, Meet Nail" Design into Action is structured as an intensive summer internship, the program cultivates leadership skills while encouraging teen participants to think critically about social and political issues through the lens of artistic practice and from the perspective of their own lived experiences. Participants will work with artists, architects, arts professionals, and community members to transform the lodge in Washington Park into a community art space. Participants can earn up to $1,155 for five weeks. Target Population: HS Sophomores, Juniors & Seniors; Number of Slots: 20; Dates: July 5 – August 10
  • Learn and Earn aims to prevent summer learning loss through engaging academic enrichment and career exploration activities for six-weeks at college campuses across the city. Participants explore future careers, develop the knowledge and confidence to achieve their education and career goals, hear from guest speakers, and take field trips to have fun and learn something new. The program is for six weeks and participants can earn up to $600. Target Population: Ages 13 – 15; Number of Slots: 700; Dates: June 25 – August 3
  • Movie and TV Scripts 101: Screenwriting from the Pros! Is designed to introduce students to scripted dramatic writing for cinema. The topics covered will include screenplay format, visual writing style, scene craft, story structure, character development and dialogue. Throughout the program, students will screen a variety of curated short films with social themes and tour Chicago’s premiere film studio to gain valuable insight into how film producers bring screenplays to life. Participants can earn up to $1,165 for six weeks. Target Population: HS Sophomores, Juniors & Seniors; Number of Slots: 15; Dates: June 25 – August 2
  • Safe Summer Peace Ambassador teaches teens strategies for reducing violence in their communities while they engaged younger children in positive activities focused on individual reflection, talking circles and conflict resolution. Participants earn $10.50 for up to 20 hours, over six weeks. Target Population: Ages 14 – 18; Number of Slots: 85; Dates: June 25 – August 3
  • Summer Youth Employment Program helps young people, ages 16 – 24, to gain paid work experience working in government agencies, private businesses and non-profit organizations throughout the city. Participants explore careers, build employability skills and financial literacy over the course of sex weeks during the summer. Participants can earn up to $1,485. Target Population: Ages 16 – 24; Number of Slots: 1500; Dates: July 2 – August 10

The application for paid summer youth programs is available in mid-March and closes in late May. To apply, visit the online application. If you have any questions, call CHA's Youth Hotline at (312) 786-6930 (for non-park district vouchers inquiries) or email You can also Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

Summer Food Service Program

CHA hosts Summer Food sites across the city each summer, where any youth can go to get a free, nutritious breakfast and lunch. Visit the SFSP page for more information.