Chicago Public Library Celebrates 10 Years of YOUmedia

Anniversary Block Party to Take Place on September 28, Celebrating 10 Years of Creative Teen Expression

Chicago Public Library (CPL) will host a Teen Block Party on Saturday, September 28 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the innovative YOUmedia program, which is made possible by philanthropic support through the Chicago Public Library Foundation. The celebration will take place outside of Harold Washington Library Center on Plymouth Court between Van Buren Street and Ida B. Wells Drive.

YOUmedia began at CPL's Harold Washington Library Center in 2009 as a collaboration with Digital Youth Network based on research supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Since opening, YOUmedia has provided Chicago's teens with spaces to socialize together, utilize a range of digital media resources, and receive support from caring, involved mentors. The YOUmedia concept and space has been replicated in 30 city's museiums, libraries, and afterschool centers nationally as a proven model for college and career success.

Chicago teens, students, alumni, families and partners are invited to join the daylong festivities on September 28th. These include live musical performances, art activities and special guest appearances. The Chicago Park District will be on hand to provide recreational opportunities, from arts and crafts to sports, as well as health and wellness programming. The Chicago Department of Family and Support Services and the Chicago Department of Public Health will also be contributing to the event.

"CPL's YOUmedia program is essential to uplifting and empowering Chicago’s teens through innovation and creativity," said Commissioner Andrea Telli. "YOUmedia invites all teens to be themselves, explore their hobbies and prepare for their futures. The Teen Block Party is an opportunity to celebrate a decade of investing in our youth and to build upon that success for the future."

The celebration will also recognize YOUmedia Champions—teens, alumni, partners and staff—who have helped shape and impact the program over the last 10 years. The Champion honorees also include the YOUmedia founders. Each of these honorees played a fundamental role in articulating a research-based creative learning concept into the physical space and program that has transformed thousands of teens' lives. These founders include: Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, National Writing Project (University of California-Berkeley); Amy Eshleman, First Lady of Chicago; Mimi Ito, University of California-Irvine; Akili Lee, Digital Youth Network; Nicole Pinkard, Northwestern University; Katie Salen Tekinbas, University of California-Irvine; Julia Stasch, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; and Connie Yowell, LRNG at Southern New Hampshire University.

Many of YOUmedia’s partner organizations will be in attendance and hosting additional exciting activities for festival attendees. Block Party partners include Adler Planetarium, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago West Community Music Center (CWCMC), CodeCreate, Contexture Media Network, Global Girls Inc., Level UP, Museum of Science and Industry, Shine On, Chicago!, SocialWorks, Steppenwolf Education, Teen Arts Pass (TAP) and Woods Education Enrichment Foundation (WEEF) Chicago.

The nationally recognized YOUmedia program, which builds on young people's interest in technology and creating by connecting teens with skilled mentors to engage them in active learning in a teens-only space, will expand to 11 additional branches. This expansion brings the total to 23 free digital media labs around the city, creating links between students' academic studies, their personal passions, and opportunities to engage with peers who support and share their interests. 

Chicago Public Library continues to expand the you YOUmedia program throughout the city with innovative spaces designed to encourage teen engagement with core content areas, such as graphic design, photography, videography, music, STEM and hands-on maker activities. In 2018, YOUmedia Chicago logged 50,485 visits from Chicago high school teens across 14 branches. Currently, YOUmedia spaces are located at 19 CPL branches across Chicago with plans to develop an additional 11 locations by the end of 2020. 

The success of the YOUmedia program would not be possible without the public-private partnership between the City of Chicago, Chicago Public Library, and the Chicago Public Library Foundation. Over the past 10 years, the following philanthropic partners have generously invested in the continued success and growth of YOUmedia. We are pleased to thank our Champions at Allstate, the Association for Manufacturing Technology, BMO Harris Bank, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Comcast, Chicago Learning Exchange, Susan Crown Exchange, Inc., Dollar General Literacy Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, HBO, Hive Chicago Fund for Connected Learning, Institute of Museum and Library Services, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund, Inc, The James and Madeleine McMullan Family Foundation, Microsoft, The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust, Motorola Solutions Foundation, Museum of Science and Industry, Northeastern Illinois University, Oppenheimer Family Foundation, Pick Fund, and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

To learn more about YOUmedia, visit Additional Block Party information and updates can be located at as well as on YOUmedia’s Facebook (@youmediachicago), Twitter (@YOUmediaChicago) and Instagram (@youmediachicago) accounts.

About Chicago Public Library

Since 1873, Chicago Public Library (CPL) has encouraged lifelong learning by welcoming all people and offering equal access to information, entertainment and knowledge through innovative services and programs, as well as cutting-edge technology. Through its 81 locations, the Library provides free access to a rich collection of materials, both physical and digital, and presents the highest quality author discussions, exhibits, and programs for children, teens, and adults. CPL received the Social Innovator Award from Chicago Innovation Awards; won a National Medal for Library Services from the Institute for Museum and Library Services; was named the first-ever winner of the National Summer Learning Association’s Founder’s Award in recognition of its Summer Learning Challenge; and was ranked number one in the U.S., and third in the world by an international study of major urban libraries conducted by the Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf in Germany. For more information, please call (312) 747-4050 or visit To follow CPL on social media, visit us on Twitter (@chipublib), Facebook (@chipublib) or Instagram (@chicagopubliclibrary).

About Chicago Public Library Foundation

The Chicago Public Library Foundation was founded in 1986 as a true public/private partnership with the City of Chicago to ensure the margin of excellence for Chicago’s outstanding Library. Through the support of many civic-minded individuals, corporations and foundations, the Foundation provides ongoing funding for collections and a range of community-responsive programs, including Teacher in the Library, CyberNavigator, YOUmedia and One Book, One Chicago. For more information, visit or call (312) 201-9830.