Who We Are

The Gary Comer Youth Center is where young people’s passion, talent, and laughter strengthen communities and empower brighter futures. The Youth Center prepares young people to confidently lead in and out of the classroom and to become well-rounded global citizens through diverse programs, wraparound services, and career exploration opportunities.

GCYC Showcase

Youth Voices

Green teens taught me friendship, teamwork and the value of accountability. I took it for granted at the time, and I didn’t realize how profound all of these experiences were.

—Nina West
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign ‘22

Where you started does not determine where you'll go. It's easy to think there's only one path to your destination, when, in reality, it's about the connections you make. Finding people who are willing to give you a chance isn't easy, but it is worth it.

—Kiana Kali
Columbia College Chicago ‘23; Comer Academic Tutor

There are so many different opportunities here for youth to prepare for high school and for college. I think not enough people know about this place, and it is an awesome place. Wherever you go, you can’t dim your light for anybody. You can always show somebody something or remind them that just like I am able to do this, you are able to do this as well.

—Diana Tassy
Comer Alum

This place is a sanctuary. This is a place where I can come and be myself. I want to give back to the place that made me who I am.

—Miracle Burres
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, '24

Find your passion, and just stick with your passion. Don’t let anyone put you in a box or tell you, you can or cannot do something. You should be your biggest motivator.

—Oluwaseyi Olaleye
Stanford University '20; Comer Crops Hydroponics Leader; MHUB

I attended meetings with the Obama Foundation. Being able to bring what I offer to the table was something I was proud of.

—Camari Jones
Albion College '23

I love working here. Seeing something grow from a seed and see it really blossom – it’s pretty refreshing – to what’s going everywhere else. It’s a safe sanctuary.

—Anthony Bonds
Comer Crops Crew Alum

I am really proud of the work I do here. Every single time I see the plants I planted grow, I’m like, they’re getting so big!

—Celine Joseph
Comer Crops Crew Alum

It is completely ok to change your mind/passion. For rising seniors especially, I think social media and other outside influences has made us believe we have to have it all figured out at a certain time. You don’t! Believe in yourself and trust the process. Everyone’s path is different.

—Daniel Johnson
Lindblom Math & Science Academy ’15; University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign ‘19 & ’22 (Masters); Account Manager at Google

My lifetime goal is being a leader who speaks up and changes policy to further justice.

—Arnesia Banks
Boston College ’16; Banks UX Consulting LLC

Every day at GCYC, we prove our commitment to creating global citizens—young leaders who strengthen the world and their communities.

Youth members from 90 Chicago area schools on our campus
Youth members report learning new or improving existing skills
Youth members report feeling safe during program activities
Youth members report feeling a sense of belonging at the center
Youth members report feeling more hopeful about their future due to their participation
Youth intern, apprentice or part-time staff positions filled
Meals served to youth by our Culinary Arts team
Pounds of produce was grown and harvested on our youth-led farm Youth
Pounds of youth-raised and harvested produce was donated to our families and the community
Free meals were served by our culinary program for COVID relief