Philanthropists give $2.5 million for new Y.O.U. headquarters

The Evanston-based Youth Organizations Umbrella has received a major boost toward developing a new headquarters for its youth development activities.

Jennifer N. Pritzker and the Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation said in an announcement today they are joining to contribute over $2.5 million of support in land value and cash gifts to support Y.O.U. in developing a new headquarters at 1911 Church St.

The site, which consisted of vacant properties Pritzker bought in fall of 2013, will offer “transformative learning spaces for youth, office space for Y.O.U. staff, and exciting opportunities for collaboration among youth-serving agencies,” the groups said in their announcement.

Under the proposal, Pritzker is providing a gift valued at $1.5 million in support for the project, including donating the land at 1911 Church Street to Y.O.U. and making the cash gift. The Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation is providing $1 million in additional financial support, according to the announcement.

“We truly admire the commitment of … Pritzker and the Lewis-Sebring family to our Evanston community,” said Seth Green, Executive Director of Y.O.U. “With their support and that of many others in our community, we look forward to realizing a transformational new headquarters for Y.O.U. and the youth and families we serve.”

Green said through such support from Evanston residents “we are enormous beneficiaries.” In a new home, Y.O.U. will be able “to add experiential learning spaces where we can conduct really high quality programs,” he said.

“This is really an affirmation of the great work of our staff and the extraordinary potential of our youth,” the director said.

City and school officials chimed in too.

“The generosity of Jennifer Pritzker and the Lewis-Sebring family is wonderful news for the young people Y.O.U. serves, wonderful news for the neighborhood, and wonderful news for the entire city,” said Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl.

ETHS District 202 Superintendent Eric Witherspoon, meanwhile, noted that “Y.O.U. is a core partner in ETHS’ efforts to realize equity and excellence. We are truly excited by the prospect of having Y.O.U.’s headquarters across the street, and grateful to the philanthropists who are helping to make this vision possible.”

Ald. Delores Holmes, in whose 5th Ward the site is located, said it is “heartwarming” when there is an investment made in her part of the community.

“I am pleased and excited for Y.O.U. as they expand services for youth and families made possible by these generous donations,” she said. “Y.O.U. is a very deserving agency I’m. I’m very happy for them. We’re all familiar with what they do.”

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