Alternatives supports and empowers Chicago youth to build safer and more vibrant communities through a combination of restorative justice and behavioral health services. Alternatives is a comprehensive, multi-cultural youth development organization that operates as a support system for more than 3,000 of Chicago’s young people and their families each year.
Our mission is to inspire young people to create a just future through practices that heal individuals, restore communities, and transform systems. Alternatives’ programs and services use an asset-based model that focuses on enriching young people’s lives by building upon individual strengths within the context of their family and community. We provide comprehensive and accessible programs that increase young people’s opportunities to succeed and grow as individuals and community members.
Alternatives serves youth between the ages of 10 and 24 and their families citywide through various Chicago public schools, our youth centers in Uptown and Washington Park. Our participants reflect the city’s rich diversity: 55% identify as Black, 28% Latinx, 7% Multi-Racial, 6% Asian and 4% white, and they lived in 70 different Chicago communities – 48% on the south and west sides of the City.
We inspire young people to create a just future through practices that heal individuals, restore communities, and transform systems.
Young people, free. Free from oppression, free in their identities, and free to pursue their wildest ambitions.
We know the value of unified voice and collective action. We are partners in the collective work of equity, justice, and liberation. We are part of a complex ecosystem of youth-centered service providers, doing our best to ensure the best future for young people. We value individual perspective and contribution in our organizational decision making. We work to align our actions in a way that honors humans first and centers the best interests of our young people.
We root our decisions and our actions in evidence and facts. We are honest about what we know and what we don’t know. We are open with our successes and our challenges. As humans we don’t always get it right, but we acknowledge our mistakes and strive for better everyday.
As people, we are creative and innovative. M an organization, we are nimble, responsive, and adaptable. We know that change is constant and we move swiftly to address challenges and embrace opportunities.
We believe in liberation and freedom for all people. Our work transforming institutions and systems that harm the communities we serve is as important as direct service with our young people. We stand up and speak up for the systemic changes young people need in order to thrive.
We believe in equity for all people regardless of their social identities or circumstances. We are an anti-racist, anti-oppression organization, approaching our work through the specific lens of racial equity. For us this means rejecting methods and practices that originate from, promote, or uphold harmful and unfair systems and embrace those that are culturally responsive.