Additional services include: special education services, a dedicated Program Manager who monitors academic and emotional needs year-round, high school application guidance, and parent workshops.

Each of our programs and support services was developed through a responsive formula of listening to students’ needs, responding with a targeted solution, and monitoring the impact. Combined, our unique programs and services ensure that our students develop the skills they need to succeed in high school, college, and the rest of their lives:

Access to high quality schools

tuition_scholarshipsChallenge: Education is a crucial element in breaking the cycle of poverty, but the reality is many schools in Chicago are not enabling students to experience success, as evidenced by the city’s lackluster high school graduation rates.

Solution: We seek out high-performing school partners throughout the city that will provide our students with the quality education they need and deserve. For students not zoned for a high-performing public school or not accepted into a top-tier charter or selective enrollment school, Horizons for Youth pays 90% of tuition to a private school that will meet the student’s needs. Parents pay the balance, a requirement that encourages parents to actively participate in their child’s education (still a daunting commitment for families earning an average of $25,000 a year).

Impact: Since our founding, our students have achieved a 99% high school graduation rate.


tutoringChallenge: Over the years, we have observed that earning passing grades does not guarantee that our students are prepared for the rigors of college and beyond.

Solution: Students with a C average or below are required to attend individualized tutoring to position them for college.  Approximately one-third of our students receive volunteer tutoring. For the roughly 15% of its kids with diverse learning needs (same as the general population), we hire special education teachers at a below market rate.

Impact: Tutoring helps students earn college-ready grades, arming them with the tools and learning strategies they need to succeed.


mentoringChallenge: In our first year of operation, our students’ parents requested more exposure to adults who could serve as positive role models for their children.

Solution: We actively recruit volunteer mentors who dedicate their time to one of our students. Every student spends at least five hours a month with his/her designated Big Sibling. Time together emphasizes new experiences, socialization, and confidence.

Impact: In partnership with parents, Big Sibling mentors expose their Little Siblings to new possibilities and our students build self-confidence and curiosity as they pave their ways to a brighter future.

Summer Academic Program

summerprogramChallenge: Over the summer months, research shows that students in low-resource areas lose 2+ months of grade-equivalency in math and reading.

Solution: To combat summer learning loss and increase the academic abilities of our students, we provide a month-long, full-day, intensive Summer Academic Program.

Impact: Horizons for Youth students are posting academic gains through our innovative Summer Academic Program. In fact, during the 2018 Summer Academic Program, 76% of our students improved or maintained their reading comprehension. This intervention ensures that our students begin the next school year well-prepared.

Enrichment outings

enrichmentChallenge: Children from low-resource areas often have limited opportunities to build knowledge and skills in the larger community.

Solution: To address this opportunity gap, we organize monthly enrichment outings for all of our students and their mentors.

Impact: Each month, Horizons for Youth K-12 students and their Big Sibling mentors assemble for a museum trip, skating expedition, or similar outing, providing both developmental experiences and opportunities for the mentor/mentee relationship to grow and flourish.


counselingChallenge: Some children face deeper personal challenges that pose barriers to their academic success.

Solution: Over 10% of our students participate in counseling with certified professionals, provided free of charge. Counselors work with our students and families to address personal challenges that affect school performance.

Impact: Students learn coping mechanisms to overcome obstacles to their success and are able to apply these strategies to cope and succeed in various settings.

College Preparation

highschoolChallenge: Most Horizons for Youth students are their family’s first to pursue higher education.

Solution: Horizons for Youth designed a program to guide students through the daunting tasks of visiting campuses, identifying the right school, securing funding, and navigating the daunting, complicated process of ACT testing, essay-writing, and applications.

Impact: With our college preparation support, our High School Program graduates have achieved a 100% college enrollment rate.

College Support

collegeChallenge: Nationwide, only 9% of students from low-resource areas earn a college degree.

Solution: Horizons for Youth developed a college support program to provide students with key interventions to overcome well-documented road-blocks to graduating college in four years, including: coaching in course selection and major mapping, assistance with money management and budgeting, socio-emotional support, general crisis management, financial aid renewal assistance, and resources for internship and job searches.

Impact: Our students are defying the odds, with an astounding 86% of our High School Program graduates either having earned or on the path to earn their degree – a rate nearly ten timesgreater than the national average for youth born into the lowest-economic quintile

Throughout the 17-year lifecycle of our programming, our students learn more than what it takes to succeed in school. They learn how to be a positive force for change in their own lives and in world around them. They gain self-advocacy skills, a strong work ethic, and character development – empowering them to be innovative change agents in their communities.