Ignite offers a comprehensive continuum of services to young people between the ages of 14 to 24 who are unstably housed or experiencing homelessness. Beyond meeting youth's immediate needs, our services provide youth with all the tools and support they need to succeed: stable housing; access to employment and education opportunities; primary and mental health care; lasting connections with caring adults, and the skills to live a healthy and independent life.
We work with each young person individually to help them overcome trauma and hopelessness, while working toward becoming a self-sufficient adult. Our holistic model includes transitional and independent living options, as well as community-based programming to connect with and support youth in crisis—all trauma-informed, evidence-based, and culturally sensitive.
We make a daily commitment to
putting young people on a path to
reach their full potential.
Street & Community Outreach Program (SCOPe): Our outreach program works in the south and southwest areas of Chicago to build relationships with young people experiencing homelessness, connect them to community resources and the full array of Ignite programs, meet their immediate needs, and provide crisis intervention.
Drop-In Resource Center: This is a safe, welcoming space youth can come to whenever they feel the need. A full continuum of services is available under one roof including housing placement, life skills programming, employment support and financial literacy, primary health care, mental health/substance use assessment and treatment, and child care.
Bronzeville Youth Shelter (BYS): BYS provides minor youth, ages 14 to 17, with a safe, supportive, and temporary place to stay while efforts are made to reunite them with their families or secure alternative living arrangements. This 4-bed emergency shelter meets the basic needs of youth and provides housing, crisis intervention, and case management.
Belfort House: Located in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, Belfort House is a 24-bed transitional living program for young people between the ages of 17 and 21. Youth may stay at Belfort House for up to 18 months and are engaged in productive activities including school, employment, and life skills training. With staff support, youth create Individual Action Plans which serve as road maps to help them achieve their goals while residing at Belfort House.
Education: We seek to provide multiple and varied opportunities for positive educational experiences that instill a desire for life-long learning and self-improvement. With plenty of encouragement and support, Ignite offers tutoring, referrals to GED programs and alternative schools, help in applying to post-secondary education/financial aid, and education advocacy as needed.
Employment: Employment services begin with an assessment of employment status and history, career aptitudes and interests, short-term employment needs, and long-term career aspirations. For clients with limited job skills and history, we provide an intensive curriculum to develop job readiness skills. For youth with more significant work experience, we offer guidance in navigating employment databases and assistance with job and internship placements.
Recreation: Ignite strongly believes in the importance of fun and creativity in order to build community and promote a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Recreation activities at the Drop-In Resource Center and Residential Programs include yoga, music, art, martial arts, dance, and much more. These activities help youth engage with their peers and adult allies in new ways and develop self-esteem and a sense of purpose.
Clustered and Scattered Site Apartments (CaSSA): Ignite’s independent living program is for youth between the ages of 18 to 24 who demonstrate the potential for independent living. In CaSSA, 10 youth live in their own apartments for up to two years and maintain access to all of Ignite’s services. Upon program completion, Ignite either transfers the lease to the young person or helps them move into another apartment, effectively transitioning them to permanent housing.
Next Gen Housing Program: Ignite’s three-year independent living program for youth 18 to 24. 10 youth living in 5 apartments maintain access to all of Ignite’s services and receive intensive employment support and leadership training. Youth assume responsibility for rent and all other expenses by year 3 of the program, effectively transitioning them to permanent housing.
Aftercare: Ignite’s aftercare program provides case management, supportive services, and health care to all youth exiting our residential programs for up to six months to ensure a smooth transition back into the community.
What We Believe: Ignite believes the population of youth experiencing homelessness too often goes unseen. With this firm belief, we actively advocate for these youths’ needs and ensure stakeholder in our extended community have the knowledge they need to help create real, lasting change. Ignite’s advocacy and policy work has shaped services for youth experiencing homelessness for over 40 years. Taking a lead on the rights of youth to safe places to live and grow up, Ignite has been a consistent voice at both the city, state, and national levels of advocacy and policy work.
Most notably, Ignite has been a leader and participant in several advocacy efforts such as: