YC4C bolsters community initiatives


Photo courtesy of Lily Manning

YC4C with Cate Readling (front center)

YC4C (Youth Committee for Change) is a group of young people looking to affect the systemic issues in Oak Park to create change. While the group is not affiliated with OPRF, their students make up a majority of their population. 

The group focuses on “building bridges with Austin, reform(ing) Oak Park law enforcement, and push(ing) our schools to teach more comprehensive sexual education.” 

They have acheived this vision through multiple fundraisers, meeting with teachers in the OPRF physical education department to discuss the current sex ed curriculum, and trips to the Greater Chicago Food Despository.  

The group is run by OPRF senior Lily Manning, meeting every Monday 8-9 p.m. in her garage.

Manning formed the organization in August 2020, hoping to be a part of her neighbor Cate Readling’s campaign for Oak Park Village president. She said participating in campaigns is important to the group because it represents young people’s ability to have an impact on the political world around them, and that their views and concerns matter.

YC4C participated in many campaigning projects for Readling in her run for Village president against Vicki Scaman. They started out by figuring out what she needed from them, creating a list of priorities with emphasis on youth perspectives, and went from there, engaging in text and phone banking and canvassing outside of polling places. 

“I think text banking worked the best,” Manning said. “We had time to think about our responses, and were even able to contact (Readling) if we needed her opinion on something.” 

Senior Nola Schuetze, another group member, added that phone banking was one of the more difficult forms of campaigning. “You are put on the spot, and if you don’t know the answer to their question, you’re kind of stuck,” she said.
The most important aspect Readling felt the group added to her campaign was their unique youth perspective.
“The Youth Committee for Change was a Northstar for our campaign,” Readling said. “Young people have the clearest perspective of what is most urgent and important, and what is at stake for all of us. If we are aligning our work to their priorities, then we are advocating for the right things.”

Although YC4C was formed with the intention of helping Readling with her campaign, it expanded into much more. The group raised over $1,100 at a garage sale raising funds for the Chicago Community Bond Fund, which helps people wrongfully arrested during protests, particularly in the height of the Black Lives Matter movement. They have also helped pack lunches for the homeless in Chicago, and have participated in environmental protests.
They are currently working on Federal Congressional Candidate Kina Collins’ campaign. The group was introduced to Collins by Readling prior to her campaign launch. 

Collins “is a very selfless person. She has been giving us guidance even before she had anything to gain from it,” Manning said. “We wanted to work with her because she fights for everyone, and believes in everything we value.”

Senior Tucker Bonnell said that Collins “really (fights) for our future as young people. I think that’s really something that we found critical with endorsing her because she represents our new generation and the things that we care about.”

Since the group’s population consists mostly of seniors, it is struggling with how to continue post-graduation. The group is currently looking for more young people interested in joining who are passionate enough to take up leadership positions within the group.

“It’s easy to join,” Schuetze said. “You just have to fill out a form on our website, and then come to our meetings.” 

Students interested in joining YC4C can visit their website at youthcommittee4change.weebly.com/ or their Instagram, @yc4c.oakpark.