OFY in the News

OFY has been in the news a lot recently. Read the Chicago Tribune article by Kate Thayer about the new Illinois law that impacts schools and teen mothers who want to breastfeed, Student moms who breast-feed will get space at schools under new Illinois law.

Then follow the breastfeeding discussion as it continues with Pat Mosena on the with Alan Montecillo.

And Kate Thayer at the Trib returns with another article, this one on Teen program combats violence by challenging macho stereotypes, highlighting the new OFY “What’s Up with Manhood?” initiative.


All SPP Seniors Graduate at Simpson, Valedictorian

Options for Youth graduated its first class of Subsequent Pregnancy Program (SPP) participants at Simpson Academy on June 15. At the end of the first year of the new North Lawndale program, participant outcomes were exceptional.

Among the 25 very young mothers who participated in the North Lawndale Subsequent Pregnancy Program, there were no second pregnancies during the program year. All nine of the participants eligible to graduate received their high school diplomas in June. One SPP participant was Valedictorian and another was Salutatorian of the 2017 graduating class. The guest speaker for commencement was a former SPP graduate, who is currently enrolled at Notre Dame, working toward her JD degree.

In September, 2015, Options for Youth funding was abruptly cut by the State of Illinois. The OFY Board and staff made the strategic decision to not abandon these young mothers, but to rebuild the Subsequent Pregnancy Program one site at a time, beginning with North Lawndale. North Lawndale was chosen to be the first new site because teen birth rates there are among the highest in the city of Chicago. Each year, one quarter (24.3%) of the babies born in North Lawndale are born to 15- to 19-year-olds. This high proportion of teen births in North Lawndale suggests limited access to reproductive health information and services to young people growing up in this community.

With generous support from the Steans Family Foundation, the Chicago Community Trust, and the Allstate Insurance Company, the new North Lawndale Subsequent Pregnancy Program was begun in November, 2016.

OFY Holds Advisory Meeting for “What’s Up with Manhood?”

Options for Youth held its first advisory meeting for a new initiative, “What’s Up with Manhood?” on June 22. Participants from numerous social service programs, nonprofit agencies, and city and county departments discussed this unique approach for helping young men deal with the violence in their everyday lives.

Participants at the meeting agreed on the need for a long-term commitment to help break the cycle of violence among vulnerable adolescents. “What’s Up with Manhood?” helps young men think critically about how manhood is defined in their own community, and how negative stereotypes of manhood are linked to violence in their daily lives.

In April, Options for Youth began a pilot program with 24 teenage male students in the Little Village neighborhood. After three months, the response has been extremely positive, with the young male participants’ apprehension being replaced by the need to talk openly. As Options president Pat W. Mosena reminded the advisory group, “It’s one kid at a time. And these young men can then become change agents in their own communities.”

OFY at DePaul Male Initiative Project

Lew Medellin from Options for Youth gives keynote address at DePaul University’s Male Initiative meeting.This year’s theme was “My Life Matters.” Lew’s talk focused on breaking down the myths on how they, young minority males, are perceived by others.

Here Lew has participants do an identity wheel and then stand and tell everyone what they want people to know about them. It ended with a challenge to take that information and make a change in how they are viewed in their community.

For more info about the DePaul Male Initiative Project, visit


Lew Medellin discusses teen sexting
Options for Youth’s Coordinator of Male Programs, Lew Medellin appeared on WYCC’s In the Loop for a panel discussion on teen sexting called Teens, Text and Sex. The panel also included Dr. Kortney Peagram, President, Bulldog Solution, and Attorney Matthew R. Gebhardt. You can view the piece here:

Options Is Celebrating 25 Years

Join Options for Youth (OFY) in celebrating 25 years of providing services to some of Chicago’s most vulnerable young people through programs that help first-time adolescent mothers and adolescent male students graduate from high school and improve options for their futures.


OFY has helped 5,000 first-time teen mothers delay a second pregnancy and graduate from high school and has also trained and employed 300 teenage boys to be Peer Advocates for male health in their own south side communities. Our goal is to raise $50,000 to expand our programs and reach more young people.

We’ll be honoring two extraordinary Chicagoans who have donated their time, resources, and celebrity to our common mission:

NBA basketball star Dwyane Wade and his sister Tragil Wade, President of Wade’s World Foundation

Like so many of the young people in our programs, Dwyane and Tragil faced enormous challenges growing up on the south side of Chicago. Both are now giving back and inspiring young people to do the same for their own communities.

We look forward to seeing you in October!

Thank you to our media sponsor, Make It Better, for supporting our celebration this year! 


The McGuffin Grant

CHICAGO, June 11, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — McGuffin Creative Group, an advertising and communications agency based in Chicago’s West Loop, has awarded the Chicago-based nonprofit Options for Youth the 2015 McGuffin Grant.

The organization was chosen among several qualified applicants to receive $25,000 in creative strategies and design solutions from McGuffin.

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Since 1990, Options for Youth has provided programs for vulnerable youth in the Chicago area. The organization has improved the lives and futures of these youth by teaching adolescent mothers sustainable life practices and training adolescent males to be peer advocates for health.

Through its work with McGuffin, Options for Youth hopes to familiarize the public with the organization and increase support for its causes.

“With the most applicants we’ve ever received, deciding on one recipient was very challenging this year,” says Chris Sculles, McGuffin Creative Group President. “Options for Youth stood out to us because of the exceptional focus the organization has had since its inception. It has built such a strong foundation, and we believe McGuffin’s capabilities are a great fit to help them exceed their goals.”

Now in its fifth year, the McGuffin Grant was created to provide one nonprofit organization each year free access to McGuffin’s team of designers, copywriters and strategists. The agency’s work is determined by the client’s needs and goals, which can include the creation of marketing campaigns that overcome specific challenges.

McGuffin Creative Group is a 25-member creative agency whose specialties range from branding to advertising, web design to direct marketing. Founded in 2004, some of the agency’s clients include BMO Harris Bank, Allstate and, as well as nonprofits like Common Threads, Casa Central and the Chicago Police Foundation.