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We offer activities and guidance to empower young people to achieve their full potential. Our Youth Program creates a safe, confidential environment for people ages 13-24 who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, who are questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity, who identify as queer or who are straight allies (LGBTQA). 

Originally named Gay Horizons, Center on Halsted's Youth Program was founded in 1978, by a group of less than ten young people. Today, staff, interns, public allies and volunteers help more than 1,600 young people across Chicagoland realize their full potential through our vocational training programs, seminars and leadership development program. In addition, we serve more than 300 LGBTQA youth directly as part of our comprehensive onsite youth programs. 

Programs and Services

Onsite Youth Programs - Become a Member!

As a youth program member, you will be able to participate in youth programming and special events at Center on Halsted. It's easy to become a member. You can call us at 77.472.6469, ext. 120. Email us at Or just stop by Center on Halsted and ask to speak to someone from the youth program. Below are some of the programs and services available exclusively to Center on Halsted youth. 

  • After School Programming
    We provide a safe space where youth between 13-21 can be themselves. Programming includes an ongoing speaker series, peer education, cultural activities, art classes, team sports, workshops and more.

  • Breakfast Club for Young Adults
    Young adults between the ages of 18-24 are invited to our morning Breakfast Club where they are connected to resources designed specifically for LGBTQA young adults including legal support, health care and housing referrals. In addition, hot breakfast is served.

  • Counseling Services
    We offer an array of counseling services designed specifically for youth – including one-on-one therapy, art therapy and group counseling. Our clinical staff and interns provide support with identity development, coming out, isolation from family and friends or general supportive needs. Clinical services are designed to meet the needs of the diverse LGBTQA youth.

  • Cyber Center
    The Community Cyber Center team is available to support program members with one- on-one assistance. In addition, special classes and open hours are available exclusively to youth.

  • HIV/STD Prevention
    In a fun and engaging atmosphere, you can learn how to protect yourself and reduce the risk of HIV, STDs and pregnancy. We also provide opportunities for HIV testing and to serve as peer educators in harm reduction.

  • Homeless Youth Services and Resources
    If you are a young person living on the streets or unsure where you will find your next meal, we can help. We will connect you to local resources, including youth shelters, to help you get back on your feet.

  • Youth Leadership Council
    Through organizing community projects and event, discussing and analyzing social justice challenges and participating in specially-designed leadership trainings, you'll get the tools and skills necessary to become a leader in the LGBTQA community and beyond.

Vocational Programming

Through a 30 hour job readiness workshop, youth (ages 14-21) are engaged in resume writing, interviewing techniques, obtaining and maintaining employment, budgeting skills, and positive decision making. Youth are also provided with individual career counseling to secure employment and complete educational goals. Youth are supported in obtaining employment with After School Matters programs, part-time and full-time work and seasonal jobs. 

  • Martin Ruiz, Jr. Vocational Scholarship 
    An annual scholarship award of $500 administered by Center on Halsted for 2 LGBTQ youth who are pursuing or would like to pursue non-traditional modes of career development such as apprenticeships, career oriented classes, seminars, self study or other self promoting programs. Click here for the application.

  • Youth Speak OUT 
    Through a collaboration between Center on Halsted and After School Matters, we offer Youth Speak OUT, a ten-week spokenword apprenticeship for Chicago Public high school youth (ages 14-19). Youth receive a stipend while learning elements of spokenword focused on LGBTQA identity, gender expression, race, ethnicity and class. At the end of ten weeks, youth perform cumulative work on stage. If you are interested in applying for the program please contact

Youth Ready Chicago

As one of the leading youth service providers in the city, Center on Halsted leads Region 1 of the Youth Ready Chicago Community Council. An initiative of the City of Chicago, Youth Ready Chicago works to build relationships and networks between different youth-serving agencies to identify and implement solutions to improve the quality of programs and services for all young people throughout the city. Center on Halsted is unique as it is the only LGBT-focused organization serving in this city-wide capacity. For more information on Youth Ready Chicago or how your organization can get involved, email

Contact Us

We want to hear from you. If you have questions about our program or would like to become a Center on Halsted youth member, please call us at 773.472.6469, ext. 120 or email  


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