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One America - Multicultural Youth Project

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One America

Program: Multicultural Youth Project, Chicago, IL
Contact(s): Grace Hou, Executive Director, Chinese Mutual Aid Association: (773) 784-2900
Purpose: To address the unique issues faced by immigrant and refugee youth while bridging the gaps between ethnic groups
Background Program Operations Outcomes


The Chinese Mutual Aid Association (CMAA) was one of several community-based organizations founded in Chicago in response to the many immigrants and refugees entering the city since 1980. CMAA saw the need for a coordinated effort to address the rising tensions between ethnic groups, especially among youth. CMAA founded the Multicultural Youth Project in 1995 as a coalition of groups representing Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, Ethiopians and Bosnians. The Multicultural Youth Project (Project) bridges the divides among these groups and provides youth with an alternative to violence.

Program Operations

The Project places a youth worker at each participating organization to plan and implement the activities of the youth club at the particular organization. In addition to the CMAA, the Project's five partnering agencies are the Cambodian Association of Illinois, the Vietnamese Association of Illinois, Lao-American Community Services, Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago and the Bosnian Refugee Center. Each participating agency organized a youth club, which provides tutoring as well as social and cultural activities. The young workers of the Project also staff after-school centers where youth can come for safe social activities and homework assistance. The Project coordinates with all five agencies to plan monthly collaborative activities such as dances, field trips, outings, sports tournaments and community service projects. The Youth Leadership Council is comprised of representatives from each Project agency and helps to plan activities. Also, a violence prevention worker organizes regular conflict resolution workshops aimed at reducing involvement in gangs and crime.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

The Multicultural Youth Project has brought together over 400 youth from immigrant and refugee families over the last three years. It has received the Amoco Leader Award and is being used as a model by the National Conference for Community and Justice.

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