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.

Rahm’s Readers

Options Partners with Rahm’s Readers
at Museum of Science and Industry

Options for Youth celebrated the successful conclusion of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Summer Reading Program with a Smart Baby Fair  for the young mothers and their babies who are participants in the Options Program in four CPS high schools.


Options participants and their children participated in Rahm’s Readers at their local libraries during the summer and forty young mothers and their children ended the program with a Smart Baby Fair which was held at the Museum of Science and Industry  where they explored the Idea Factory and other MSI exhibits designed for very young viewers. The Options Program is a   collaborative Options for Youth/ CPS Community Partnership School-Based Prevention Initiative, a program of CPS Office of Early Childhood Education.

Dwyane Wade Foundation

Options for Youth’s Arlether Paraharm was one of three recent recipients of Dwyane Wade’s prestigious  ‪#‎VillageKeeper‬  Award! Wade’s foundation, Wade’s World, presents this award to deserving individuals who have given their time and efforts to provide a safe and productive environment for children and youth. Arlether is the Program Manager for the Illinois Subsequent Pregnancy Program and coordinates activities at all seven Subsequent Pregnancy Program sites.

Summer Youth Employment Program

OFY to Train Adolescents as Peer Health Educators in Partnership with the City of Chicago’s Summer Youth Employment Program

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS (June 15, 2015) – The City of Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services has selected Options for Youth as a partner agency to participate in One Summer Chicago’s Youth Employment Program (SYEP). The program will take place over a six week period starting in late June. Training and employment experience will be provided to 75 young people, both male and female, ages 16-24 at two worksite locations: Options for Youth in Hyde Park and Little Village High School in South Lawndale.

The overarching goal of Options for Youth’s Summer Youth Employment Program will be to provide a meaningful and substantive work experience in the field of health education to adolescents in the Chicago community. Under the tutelage of experienced peer health educators a few years their senior, participants will learn both content and presentation skills that will allow them to return to their communities and provide healthy lifestyle information to their peers.

During the six week program period, each SYEP participant will become an employee of Options for Youth, a nonprofit organization focusing on creating opportunities for vulnerable adolescents. The program will focus exclusively on health careers and will be designed to: 1) provide job skills, communication improved job readiness and increased financial literacy; 2) provide life skills training and increase knowledge of healthy lifestyle choices; and 3) provide a personal introduction to a wide variety of health professions.


Options for Youth’s mission is to expand opportunities for underserved youth in the Greater Chicago Area by developing programs that build upon the strengths and maximize the potential of each young person. Options for Youth achieves this mission through two main programs- The Peer Advocates for Health Program and the Illinois Subsequent Pregnancy Program.

The Peer Advocates for Health program provides direct services to young men each year through summer training and weekly group meetings throughout the school year. After six months of intense training, participants are paid to work in their own schools and communities as Peer Advocates for Health, providing information and serving as role models. Since 2000, 240 Peer Advocates from 42 high schools have received training. Significant increases in reproductive health knowledge, improvements in lifestyle choices, and use of clinic services for male health have been reported among young men participating in PAH.

The Illinois Subsequent Pregnancy Program (ISPP) serves one of the most vulnerable populations of young girls, those who already have a baby before the age of 18. ISPP is one of the few programs that focuses upon delaying a second pregnancy among teen mothers. Through intense training coupled with home visiting services, ISPP impacts the lives of these young mothers, their babies, and their broader communities by providing information, knowledge, and ongoing individual support. Among the 5,000 first-time adolescent mothers from 50 communities who have participated in ISPP, 97% delayed a second pregnancy while in the program and 90% graduate from high school each year.

Learn more at


One Summer Chicago brings together government institutions, community-based organizations and companies to offer over 24,000 employment and internship opportunities to youth and young adults ages 14 to 24.

Through One Summer Chicago, youth complete six or more weeks of work or career programming, contributing their skills and talents to Chicago’s vibrant communities. Each year, City and County public agencies leverage their resources to provide the maximum number of high-quality work experiences for youth.

The Department of Family and Support Services leads One Summer Chicago in partnership with participating agencies including: Office of the City Treasurer, Chicago Department of Transportation, Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Housing Authority, After School Matters, Forest Preserves of Cook County, Brookfield Zoo, Chicago Public Libraries, City Colleges of Chicago, Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, and Mayor’s Office of People with Disabilities.

Learn more at ###

30th Anniversary Impact Award

Pat Mosena, President & Founder of Options for Youth, Selected to Receive 30th Anniversary Impact Award from Chicago Foundation for Women

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS (Feb. 9, 2015) – Pat Mosena, President & Founder of Options for Youth, will be honored at the 30th Anniversary Impact Awards, hosted by Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW), on Thursday, March 12 at Venue SIX10 at Spertus Institute, 610 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Ill. The 30th Anniversary Impact Awards will honor Chicago leaders who are exemplary trailblazers who uphold CFW’s mission to advance basic rights and equal opportunity for women and girls. This year’s honorees are diverse in their focus areas including advocacy for undocumented victims of domestic violence, advocacy and social policy efforts for women, increasing life options for underserved adolescents, disability rights activism, and youth sexual education.

“The honorees for the 30th Anniversary Impact Awards are extraordinary women who are persistently working to better the lives of women and girls here in Chicago,” said K. Sujata, President and CEO of Chicago Foundation for Women. “As we begin our 30th year of exclusively focusing on women and girls—traditionally underrepresented in philanthropic support—these five awards celebrate phenomenal civic leaders who are champions of that work.”

“Being selected as a CFW Impact Award honoree is truly a personal honor, but more importantly, it provides recognition of the talent and commitment of the Options for Youth Home Visitors and staff who, for twenty years, have worked to successfully change the life course of very young mothers by helping them to delay a second pregnancy and complete their high school education,” said Pat Mosena, President and Founder of Options for Youth.

For more than twenty years, Options for Youth has been working to increase opportunities and life options for the most vulnerable populations of adolescents in Chicago, including first-time teen mothers who have a baby before the age of 18. Teen mothers are often written off by their schools and society at large.

The Options for Youth program outcomes over time and diverse populations of adolescents, show that investment in these young women can change their life course. OFY’s Subsequent Pregnancy Program is one of the few programs in the country that focuses upon delaying a SECOND PREGNANCY among adolescent mothers. 97% of program participants delayed a second pregnancy and 90% of those eligible to graduate each year receive their high school diploma. High School graduation rates among young mothers in SPP are twice the national average for pregnant and parenting teens.

CFW’s first Impact Awards honoree in 2005 was Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Since then, more than 50 visionary leaders advancing the well-being of women and girls in Chicago have been recognized. The 30th Anniversary Impact Awards honorees were selected from over 50 community nominations by a volunteer committee: Laura Tucker, Chair, Bernadette Chopra, Marge Collens, Cindy Grau, Virginia Holt, Mariame Kaba, Shia Kapos, Loretta Rosenmeyer, Gail Stern, Chad Tischer, and Courtney VanLonkhuyzen.

About Chicago Foundation for Women

Chicago Foundation for Women raises money to fund and support organizations that help women and girls—it’s all about making smarter connections between need, money and solutions. We believe that when women and girls are secure, whole communities are made better. We improve the lives of women and girls through grants, advocacy, leadership development, and public and grantee education. Since 1985, we have given more than 3,000 grants totaling nearly $24 million and helped thousands of women and girls become philanthropists. Learn more at