Most young people who’ve received services from Chicago Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. will tell you they have much love and respect for Monique Robbins. YAP is a national nonprofit in 31 states and the District of Columbia that provides community-based services as an alternative to youth incarceration and other out-of-home placements. Monique was one of Chicago YAP’s first employees when the nonprofit launched in the city 15 years ago.
“I meet the youth and families I work with where they are and help them go where they want to be,” she said. “I see young people’s needs and act on them no matter their background or circumstance.”
Monique has worked in many capacities with Chicago YAP since 2009 and is currently co-Director of Choose to Change (C2C), which engages youth heavily impacted by violence and trauma. Monique’s team of YAP Advocates delivers intensive individual and family wraparound supports while Children’s Home & Aid provides trauma-informed therapy to help the youth build healthy decision-making tools to live safe and successful lives. Through a randomized controlled trial, researchers at the University of Chicago Crime Lab and Education Lab have found that C2C reduces violent-crime arrests by almost 50 percent and increases attendance in school by about a week.
Monique will represent C2C on Oct. 21 as a panelist as part of a national discussion on justice-involved young people impacted by trauma. The event is part of On the Road to Unlocked!, a series of virtual discussions raising national awareness of alternatives to ineffective youth justice approaches that disproportionately harm Black and Brown youth. Unlocked! is sponsored by YAP, The Social Justice Initiative of Bryn Mawr College, and the National Human Services Assembly (NHSA).
When describing her devotion to her work and the youth she serves, Monique says it’s simple. She cares.
“Many of the youth I’ve encountered in my career have lost trust in adult role models,” she said. “The power of adults who work in partnership with young people to build persistent, caring relationships, find their potential, and have a genuine interest is invaluable to the success of their futures.”
Monique said many of the relationships she has developed with youth resemble that of an extended family. She has always been motivated to empower communities, neighborhoods, and families in her encounters by making them the priority.
If you’re interested in working with Monique and her team of Advocates or other YAP teams across the U.S., apply at www.YAPInc.org, where you can also learn how to support the organization through a donation. Stay in touch and share other positive stories by following the organization on Twitter @YAPInc.