Due to the state-wide COVID-19 quarantine Young Chicago Authors has suspended all in-person programming. Please see our calendar for our virtual program offerings.

About YCA

Through creative writing, Young Chicago Authors helps young people from all backgrounds to understand the importance of their own stories and those of others, so that they can pursue the path they choose and work to make their communities more just and equitable. 


Twenty-eight years ago, an educator named Bob Boone understood that public schools were failing to serve young people because they did not have the resources to provide creative writing instruction. A weekly writing workshop became the kernel of an organization called then and now, Young Chicago Authors. Over the next three decades, YCA became a home for teens and young adults looking for ways to express themselves --- and finding a diverse community to inspire and support them.

Young people change when they engage with YCA’s programs and this change can manifest in different areas of youth development. For some, social and emotional learning is forefront as they discover the importance of their own stories and develop empathy by hearing the stories of others. For others, YCA’s programs igniteacademic development and illuminate opportunities for post-high school study and work. Effectively, YCA offers young people a view of a tomorrow that is better than today.


Download our 2016 Annual Report here:

2016 Annual Report 2016 Annual Report (13310 KB)

You can download our 2017 Annual Report here:

Annual Report 2017 Annual Report 2017 (8881 KB)



For nearly three decades, YCA has seen the transformation that occurs when a young person is given the opportunity to tell the world who they are. Shaping their experiences into a poem helps a young person see themselves more fully; sharing those experiences helps others see them more fully, closing the distance between people who are not typically in proximity with one another. To this end, YCA seeks to have its students accomplish the following:

Artistic Learning and Expression

  • Create art that tells authentic stories
  • Think critically about works of art
  • Recognize and employ literary techniques

Social and Emotional Learning

  • Be empowered
  • Have a positive sense of self
  • Contribute to an environment where people from all backgrounds feel welcomed and respected
  • Recognize the importance of all personal narratives

Academic success and foundational skills

  • Engage in learning
  • Turn an idea into a completed work