See the Youth Program Calendar.

Purpose and History

Center on Halsted's Youth Program, originally known as Gay Horizons, was founded in 1978 by fewer than ten young people. Since moving into the current Center on Halsted building, we have provided services to more than 2,000 young people across Chicagoland to help them realize their full potential through our vocational training programs, seminars and leadership development programs. In addition, we directly serve around 400 LGBTQIA and Allied youth as part of our comprehensive onsite youth programs.

Our Youth Program creates a safe and confidential environment for young people ages 13–24 who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, who are questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity, or who are straight allies (LGBTQIA). Youth programming at Center on Halsted offers a nurturing and supportive environment where youth and young adults can thrive. With a variety of programs and services, from cultural and event programming to case management and leadership development, we are committed to supporting LGBTQIA youth and young adults in a holistic manner.

We value the contributions that talented, capable, and conscientious youth offer in identifying and shaping the services they most need. We have a diverse and experienced staff with backgrounds in Social Work, LGBTQIA Studies, Sociology and Anthropology, HIV/AIDS prevention, youth leadership, education, group facilitation, and counseling, and who are responsive to the goals and aspirations of our youth. Additionally, we are aware that our patrons have a range of needs and concerns—including but not limited to coming out, identity management, sexual health education, stable housing, and employment—we aim to sustain programming that sees our youth as assets. We have an expectation of excellence for all youth at Center on Halsted and we offer programs that provide a roadmap to a successful future.

How to 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 (773) 472-6469, ext. 437, 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.

Programs and Services

Youth Programming at Center on Halsted is Tuesday-Saturday, usually in the afternoons and evenings. On Wednesdays we have Grab N Go from 12p-3, and Dinner2Go 5pm-7pm. We also offer social groups, such as Teen Hang on Zoom on Fridays, and Weekend Edition on Saturdays! Lastly, we also offer individual Case Management and Adult Ally Services to support youth in reaching their goals and growing into their authentic selves. See our calendar to learn more, and register for the Youth Program and all Youth Program groups and services by emailing us at

Workshops and Programs

The youth program offers a wide variety of workshops and presentations each week that are focused on developing skills and knowledge in the areas of arts and culture, critical thinking and education, leadership and activism, recreation and sports, vocational and professional development, and sexual health and identity.

Community Night

On the third Wednesday of every month the youth program comes together to engage in a community learning activity or experience, and to celebrate youth who are graduating from the program, who have celebrated birthdays in the past month, and to present a youth program member every three months with the Youth Excellence Award for outstanding achievement and effort toward meeting their personal goals. We hope you will consider joining us in celebration of our community.

Adult Ally Support

Adult Allies are available to meet with youth program members one-on-one to offer support with housing, education, employment, and health related needs. Adult Allies work with youth to develop a plan that outlines each youth’s strengths, vision, and unique goals, and to identify what is getting in the way of meeting those goals as well as what steps youth can take toward accomplishing those goals. Adult Allies are also able to refer youth to culturally competent, supportive services and programs in order to get additional support in any of the areas listed above.

Health and Wellness

The Youth Program at Center on Halsted is committed to providing youth centered and youth driven health services, education, and advocacy. Health services are non-judgmental and focused on your individual needs.
  • HIV Testing and Counseling
    In collaboration with the Center on Halsted’s HIV Department, Health Educators are available to answer questions you might have, offer free and confidential HIV testing and counselling, and provide support with linkage to medical care.

  • Youth Backpack Project
    Center on Halsted is grateful for the additional support of community members who came together in meeting the needs of our youth. The “Center on Halsted Backpack Project” helps to support our youth by providing additional resources they may need to navigate their lives. Click here to learn more!

Legal Advocacy

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless offers a free walk-in legal clinic for youth program members on Wednesdays from 1:00–2:00 p.m. Come in to get legal advice, learn about your rights, and receive support around obtaining a birth certificate, or changing your name or gender marker.


Center on Halsted in collaboration with Truman Community College offers a free 8 week GED program to help youth and adults prepare for and pass their GED examinations.


The Youth Program Case Manager provides one-on-one assistance with Youth Program participants in creating and updating resumes, practicing interview skills, filling-out applications, and identifying what kind of work would be a good fit for you. Youth Program participants can also pick out clothing for a job interview and for work from our Clothing Closet.


After continuing to listen to the needs of young people, Center on Halsted approved a Youth Housing Strategy composed of implementing two goals. The first is for Center on Halsted to operate a cluster site housing program for youth from the existing Youth Program, developing a model to be replicated across multiple neighborhoods in Chicago. The second, and subsequent, is for Center on Halsted to have a new Youth Intentional Permanent Housing building in operation, housing LGBTQIA youth experiencing homelessness with wrap-around services, in a supportive community.

Now in its second year of operation, the Youth Housing Initiative currently supports ten youth in safe, long-term housing. To learn more information, click here!

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 or send an email to  

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