In 2016, The LeaderShop implemented big changes in the High School Leadership Program. In the new committee structure, youth are responsible for planning and implementing the programs under the guidance of The LeaderShop staff members. Youth learn leadership skills as they serve their committee as a chairperson, vice-chairperson, secretary, or treasurer. The High School Leadership Program participants have risen to the challenge!


In 2013, The LeaderShop celebrated 35 years of Building Service-Oriented Youth. The agency set the goal of 35,000 service hours by the youth and adults affiliated with The LeaderShop, and a goal of 35 service projects each by the High School Leadership Program and the Junior High Leadership Program. The year was a big success!   


In 2012, The LeaderShop name change happened. CEP Youth Leadership changed its name to The LeaderShop. After in-depth research and analysis, brainstorming and continual board input and approval, CEP Youth Leadership changed its name to more accurately and succinctly reflect our mission, people and spirit. The programs, passion, commitment, and vision remain the same.  


In 2010, brought the resurrection of Haunted Manor and the return of an Afterschool Tutoring Program at the La Grange Community Center two days a week. Additionally, Guys Group was formed for high school students. 


In 2008, it was a year of growth and celebration for CEP Youth Leadership. As we started our 30th year we saw an increase in our staff and the start of two new programs: “Watch My Feet” and “After School-The Hangout” located in Brookfield. 


In 2007, CEP Youth Leadership continued to engage and empower hundreds of children and teens throughout Lyons and southern Proviso Townships. Through our programs and services, we provided positive recreational alternatives and educational support while identifying opportunities for community service and volunteerism, all with the aim of developing today’s youth into confident, competent, and community-minded leaders. 


In 2006 it was a year of significant change for CEP, with both a name change and a move to a new home. The new name, CEP Youth Leadership, more accurately reflected the agency’s mission and role in the community. The new location at 4903 S Willow Springs in La Grange provides more space for staff, volunteers, and youth. Plus, it is our space alone, it is convenient to our youth, and we have Denning Park just out the back. 


In 2005, funding from Community Memorial Foundation enabled CEP to engage the necessary support and resources to facilitate the development of a detailed and effective two-year strategic plan. Guided by that plan, CEP’s board and staff are moving into the future with vision and direction. 


In 2004, additional funding was received from the Lyons Township Mental Health Commission to support our Junior High and High School Leadership Programs. The leadership programs provide youth leadership development training and opportunities for young people to create positive changes in their own lives, schools, and communities. 


In February 2003, marked CEP’s 25th Anniversary of providing services to Lyons and southern Proviso Township youth. 


In 2002, CEP worked with the Hispanic Liaison at LTHS to help establish a tutoring program to target ESL students. CEP’s programs continued to grow and CEP acquired a second van to facilitate this growth. The van was donated by Linda Sokol Francis. 


In 2001, many funders and community people began asking CEP to consider providing services in the Summit-Argo area. CEP held focus groups and conducted needs assessments with many Summit-Argo community members to determine what was already available and what was needed in this community. Two new staff were hired to begin to establish outreach programs and services in this area. Also in 2001, CEP created its own website and established the Youth Advisory Board (YAB). The role of the YAB was to create a website to centralize volunteer opportunities for local young people and to encourage local agencies to have youth involved on their board of directors.


In 2000, the Teen Up tutoring program, which targets African American students, moved from the Community Center to the CEP offices. Also, CEP acquired a van to use for the transportation of youth. Sponsored by the Ronald McDonald Charities and the Proviso Township Mental Health Commission, the van allowed more kids access to programs. The new millennium brought a service expansion opportunity to CEP. 


In 1997, the organization changed its focus towards prevention efforts. CEP moved energy away from licensing foster care homes and continued to grow outreach and leadership programs. CEP added an additional Junior High Program staff member to be able to include 10 local junior highs in High School leadership programs. CEP began training high school students to become Teen Leaders to work with the junior high kids and the Gurrie Snowflake program. CEP also began the Inclusion Program. Supported by LAN, the Inclusion Program provided educational and social programs that were unavailable or inaccessible to this target population. 


In 1996, CEP received a grant from the Community Memorial Foundation to expand youth outreach services. This expansion broadened the focus of junior high student needs and health and wellness education for junior high and high school youth. The Junior High Leadership Conference and The Girls Becoming Women Group were established as a result of this. 


In 1994, CEP added mentoring and tutoring programs and continued to expand advocacy and outreach.


In 1993, CEP added the Youth Council Program, a multi-racial, multi-cultural group of teens. This group provided training and presentations to other teens and community groups on issues of diversity. The expansion of outreach services also included the establishment of a summer theater program.  


In 1992, Operation Wise-Up, a substance abuse prevention program utilizing teen and adult volunteers that focused on junior high students was introduced. CEP also launched the Summer Battle of the Bands.  


Also in 1990, efforts began to establish a youth center in our community. As a result, CEP added a new dimension to its programming, Outreach Services, focused on the social and recreational need of youth as well as prevention and intervention. 


In 1990, The Buddy Program was introduced at S.E. Gross School in Brookfield. CEP staff met with middle school counselors, teachers and principals and developed a program addressing the social and developmental issues of middle school students utilizing parent volunteers as trainers.


In 1988, CEP moved into the area of substance abuse prevention as a co-sponsor of the West Cook Snowball. This was the first Snowball held for and by area high school students.  


In 1984, CEP’s Peer Leadership Program was in place at local high schools and in several other high schools throughout northern Illinois. CEP continued its efforts in community education by sponsoring workshops to educate the community on gang issues in the suburbs. CEP also developed an elementary school model of the Life Skills Training. The housing program was expanded to provide transitional housing for 18-21 year olds. This program included counseling and employment assistance.  


In 1980, the Peer Counseling Program was launched and CEP received its first foundation funding from Nalco and the Chicago Community Trust. Nalco would become a consistent funder for many years. For the next three years, CEP focused on the development and expansion of the Peer Leadership model.  


In 1979, CEP conducted the first community-wide youth needs assessment. This assessment became the basis for future program planning. The most significant finding was that “kids helping kids” was the key to delivering services. As a result of this, CEP developed the Peer Counseling/Peer Leadership Program, which would become the basis of all the prevention programs.


In the fall of 1977, the La Grange YMCA decided to discontinue their teen service programs in order to expand its day care and recreation programs. A public meeting was held and local police, school counselors and church representatives stated emphatically that there must be a local agency whose sole focus was youth. The outpouring of public support was the driving force behind the creation of Community Extension Project as a new and independent agency.
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