The LUV Institute supports young people, ages 11-24, who face social, emotional, economic and academic challenges, providing after-school and job readiness programs, internships, entrepreneurship training, job placement, and more.
According to a study by the McKinsey Global Institute, by 2020 up to 75 million low-skilled workers between the ages of 21 and 24 will become permanently jobless and unable to meet employers’ demands for medium- and high-skilled workers. These dire statistics inform the work of the Love, Unity, and Values Institute, or LUV Institute, a Bronzeville-based nonprofit that provides the foundational skills students need for college and career readiness, using literacy, art and wellbeing.
“We know the kids referenced in this study, and most are high risk, wards of the state, justice involved, with behavior problems,” said Cosette Yisrael, a Hyde Park native who was inspired to found the institute after hearing the McKinsey statistics.
The LUV Institute supports young people, ages 11-24, who face social, emotional, economic and academic challenges, providing after-school and job readiness programs, internships, entrepreneurship training, job placement, and other intensive supportive services to nearly 500 youth annually. Yisrael said the organization’s distinct programming model, called “theory of change,” includes social and emotional competence, good citizenship, and academic and career success as pathways to achieving economic opportunity for young people, while also disrupting violence and other negative social behaviors.
As one of two community-based nonprofits selected for the core program of the Community Programs Accelerator at the University of Chicago, the LUV Institute sees an opportunity to strengthen the foundation of the organization, expand its direct services, and partner with other agencies to provide more professional development services to educators.
Yisrael, who founded the organization in 2012, first heard about the Community Programs Accelerator from a community member in the grocery store. She added herself to the program’s mailing list to learn more and eventually applied. Although the Institute was not selected the first time, Yisrael and others with the LUV Institute met with the accelerator’s staff to get feedback, and learned that the messaging about the program did not accurately articulate what they did. She applied a second time and also got involved, showing up at University events and hosting workshops, which allowed the accelerator staff to see how the organization interacted with young people. The institute also refined and clarified its messaging.
“We are excited that we’ve been given this opportunity to scale and replicate our program in a way we would not have been able to do without this partnership,” Yisrael said. “While we are certainly concerned about metrics and measurements, we are even more excited to have a partner that wants us to succeed, and we want to grow the Institute in such a way that the partnership is no longer needed.”
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- Cosette Nazon Yisrael