Roots of CYDI Our school community includes students from Auburn Gresham, Englewood, and surrounding Chicago communities. CYDI started in 1996 due to the lack of services and the high number of out of school youth. Pastor Aaron and Mable Royster started the school as a small GED program with only 40 students in New Joy Divine Church at 76th and Halsted. The school reached the small number of youth and due to increased demand, the school began to expand. CYDI became a campus of Youth Connection Charter School in 1997 and began offering a high school diploma as a charter school. In 2002, the school relocated to the current site at 78th and Union and has grown to more than 270 students.
WHAT WE DO Community Youth Development Institute (CYDI) is a community based alternative high school for youth that have not thrived in traditional settings. We are a successful alternative school because we offer a different program and different approach than schools across Chicago. We provide hands on curriculum that helps students gain marketable skills and prepare for life after high school. Our academic system provides flexibility in the ways that credit can be earned or awarded and provides students with personalized learning opportunities. These strategies include online and blended learning, dual credit and dual enrollment and, project-based and work-based learning, and credit recovery. This type of learning leads to better student engagement because the content is relevant to each student and tailored to their unique needs. It also leads to better student outcomes because the pace of learning is customized to each student. We integrate core curriculum into workbased learning opportunities throughout the program to get our students CYDI ready. They get to demonstrate mastery of job-specific skills through curriculum that is both project-based and directly connected to the competencies they are working to develop. Students working towards mastery of skills and competencies have increased ownership and motivation to complete given tasks and meet expectations. It also gives students a sense of purpose, a high level of confidence in their abilities, and ample opportunities to develop essential 21st Century skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, and communication in authentic contexts. Our system to have all of our graduates CYDI Ready has multiple pathways to graduation, makes use of integrated instructional technology, takes advantage of learning opportunities outside of school hours and walls, and help identify opportunities to target interventions to meet the specific learning needs of students.