The Housing Authority of Cook County Launches Summer Programming for Youth in Suburban Cook County

June 24, 2019 |

(Cook County, IL) – Summer programming for Housing Authority of Cook County youth is back  – and seeing its biggest season yet. Successful past programs have continued to grow while this year’s opportunities also include a new summer internship and programs focused on introducing HACC youth to the fields of science and technology.

“Our kids are the future of our communities at the Housing Authority of Cook County,” said Richard Monocchio, HACC Executive Director. “That’s why we’re excited to build on the programs that we know have a large, positive impact on our youth while bringing new resources to the table. When we invest in our kids, everyone wins.”

Included in this year’s programming is a new internship program – Team beWELL: SummerWorks. In collaboration with Youth Guidance (YG), a Chicagoland-based social service non-profit, this year’s SummerWorks class includes eight young men from the local community. All eight are enrolled in YG’s “Becoming a Man,” (B.A.M.) Program – a mentorship program that helps young men navigate difficult circumstances by creating safe spaces to openly express themselves, receive support and develop the social and emotional skills necessary to succeed.

SummerWorks interns on site in the south suburbs.
Photo credit: Youth Guidance

The internship is based at HACC public housing sites across south suburban Cook County where the youth spend time working on small restoration projects, beautification initiatives and day-to-day administrative tasks necessary to keep the sites running smoothly. HACC has also added an educational component to the internship, providing “life skills” classes covering topics such as financial budgeting and credit, college preparation, nutrition and a resume writing course, among others.

One program that has seen continued growth this year is the Forest Preserve Experience (FPE). Launched with HACC as a partner in 2017, the Forest Preserve Experience is a five-week summer internship program that introduces high school-aged HACC residents to work and education throughout the Forest Preserves of Cook County (FPCC).

Slowik: Summer jobs program puts high school students to work in forest preserves
FPE Crew Members cutting back buckthorn, an invasive species threatening the ecosystem of the Forest Preserves of Cook County

Throughout the summer, 112 HACC youth (Crew Members) will work on conservation and restoration projects thoughout the Forest Preserves’ jurisdiction. Time is also devoted to learning about the local environment where Crew Members have the opportunity to participate in a number of environmental enrichment activities, such as hiking, canoeing, and other recreational opportunities.

Two new youth educational programs funded through the Safe and Thriving Communities grant administered by HACC and Cook County’s Justice Advisory Council have also begun in the south suburbs.

HACC Youth take part in computer training classes

For HACC’s high school-aged youth, a computer training class is being offered for high school-aged youth, all from HACC-assisted households. Hosted at Prairie State College, these 14-18 year olds will be spending the summer working toward the CompTIA A+ Certification. This certification covers the fundamentals of computer technology, installation and configuration of PCs, laptops, related hardware, and basic networking.

A program for younger HACC residents interested in the fields of technology and science is also being held this summer. Administered by Adults Active in Youth Development (AAYD), a non-profit dedicated to providing youth programming opportunities, the Dixmoor STEM Program will host youth ages 7-13 all summer long. Through this program, some of our youngest HACC residents will be provided with hands-on activities that include learning about forensic science, coding, building an app, robotics, video game design, lego education projects and more.

Youth in the Dixmoor STEM Program learn about the scientific method by taking part in an “archeological dig.”

“Truly, this season has been the ‘Summer of Youth,'” said Richard Monocchio. “These programs, and the lives of the families they impact, are at the heart of what we do at the Housing Authority of Cook County. When affordable housing and supportive services come together, our communities are given the chance to thrive. HACC is proud to lead the way in these endeavors and re-commit to the cause.”

Organizations interested in partnership opportunities are encouraged to contact Holly Wallace, Director of Educational Programs and Partnerships, at 847-779-3585 or [email protected]. HACC households looking to enroll in programming for next year’s classes are encouraged to regularly check HACC’s human services website, beWELL.thehacc.org.