The Y Celebrates 20 New “Urban Warriors” Graduates at the University of Chicago

December 13, 2017


Meet the Chicago teens in our Fall 2017 cohort who worked with military veterans to alleviate the effects of trauma in their lives and communities. "

Twice a year, the Y celebrates the young graduates of our Urban Warriors curriculum — a 16-week program that pairs post-9/11 military veterans with Chicago youth who have been exposed to violence. On Saturday, December 9, more than 100 people gathered for the latest recognition ceremony at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration.

In addition to recognizing 20 new graduates from the Humboldt Park and Little Village/Pilsen program sites, the event also included teen reflections, performances, and alumni awards. Click here to see more photos of the event.

"Urban Warriors is unique because it transcends racial boundaries and geographical locations," said Chico Tillmon, Executive Director of the YMCA's Youth Safety and Violence Prevention (YSVP) initiative, in his keynote address. "Urban Warriors allows people who once looked at each other differently because of neighborhoods and gangs to see the commonality in one another, to connect on a higher level. You are an example for society."

Two Chicago teens, Diana Franco and Artemis Anderson, shared reflections from their time in Urban Warriors, along with two veterans, Rogelio Villa and Karen Hernandez. Later, two Alumni Awards were presented to an Urban Warriors veteran mentor, Rogelio Villa, and youth participant, Austin Tema.

Finally, another Urban Warriors almunus, Noah Bakr, performed a live storytelling project he completed in the YMCA's Story Squad, another YSVP program that empowers youth to channel their experiences through personal audio stories. 

We're very proud of our youth and their accomplishments! Here are the Fall 2017 graduates in full:

Thanks to our generous Urban Warriors and Youth Safety and Violence Prevention initiative supporters in 2017: Allstate Insurance Company, Alvin H. Baum Family Fund, The Boeing Company, Chicago Bulls, Chicago Teachers Union Foundation, Chicago Department of Family and Support Services, Cubs Charities, Enlace Chicago/Little Village Youth Safety Network, Leo S. Guthman Fund, Heartland Alliance, Lefkofsky Family Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Nurmi Family Foundation, Michael Reese Health Trust, and Vitalogy Foundation.