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.

In Chicago’s contemporary landscape, there is a desperate need for a space dedicated to the voices of young people who face violence and segregation on a daily basis, a safe place that provides a platform for youth expression and celebrates the narratives of teens from every corner of the city. Young creative people need mentors to guide their writing to a level that sparks real change in themselves and their communities. YCA’s programs serve as an introduction to and immersion in a vibrant literary community that transcends cultural and socio-economic boundaries.

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