Museums, libraries, and other organizations in Chicago offer summer learning opportunities for teenagers in the form of internships, jobs, and other programs. Many offer payment or stipends, or the chance to earn a college scholarship. There are also academic programs available to find out more about the college experience.
Camp College. Camp college is a free program that gives current high school juniors an opportunity to to learn about the college search and application process firsthand from college admission professionals and high school counselors. Participants will learn about navigating a college fair, essay writing, identifying college fit/match, financial aid, and many more topics. In addition, students visit multiple colleges/universities and experience living, eating, and playing on a college campus. Campers will also be paired with a counselor-mentor whom they retain for the school year. Camp College will be held July 9-12 on a college campus, and housing and all meals are free. This year’s students will visit three schools near each other: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois, and Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau. Admission is limited to 40-50 students. Students should attend high school in Illinois OR currently live in Illinois and have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. Applications, parent waivers, and letters of recommendation are due May 10. The program is sponsored by the Illinois Association of College Admission Counseling. You can learn more about Camp College at its website.
Adler Planetarium. Teens have several options at Adler. Students currently in 8th grade or high school can apply to the Astro-Science Workshop, where they will get hands-on opportunities about space exploration that involve telescope observing, light pollution, and high-altitude ballooning. The workshop meets Monday through Friday from July 15 to August 8, with an application deadline of May 3. To learn about all of the opportunities for teens and to apply, visit the planetarium’s website.
Crystal Charitable Fund. Maybe you’ve got your own program in mind but wonder how to pay transportation costs. The Crystal Charitable Fund, through the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation, offers grants of up to $4,000 support extended cultural or educational experience for students away from home, even overseas. There’s no application deadline, but applications must be submitted at least six weeks before travel dates. Applications are limited to students 13-19 in the Chicago area from impoverished households and with good academic standards. To learn more about this fund and others from the OPRF Community Foundation, visit the group’s website.
Girls Who Code. Current sophomore and junior girls interested in computer technology can apply for a free seven-week introductory computer science course. Girls will learn computer science and get exposure to tech jobs. The Summer Immersion Program is held in cities across the country, including Chicago. The initial application deadline has passed, but seats are often still available. Learn more at the group’s website.
After School Matters. Teens can apply for summer positions through After School Matters, which will offer programs in the arts, communications, science, sports, and technology. Positions will be available to current 8th-12th graders. Applications are now being accepted at the group’s website, which also will have maps to show openings throughout the city.
One Summer Chicago. Teens at least 14 years old can apply for jobs through the city of Chicago’s summer employment program. Applications are now open for summer jobs, and all applications must be completed online; the deadline is May 20. Last summer, 70,000 youths applied for 32,000 jobs, and many received work experience with corporate and community employers. More information is available at the One Summer Chicago website.