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Meet Karlyn

Karlyn came to Kaleidoscope through our Find Your Future program, and we are honored to have been a part of her journey. Today, she is pursuing a Bachelors Degree in Social Work and Criminal Justice, and she continues to help youth at Kaleidoscope by volunteering with our Arts Camps, inspiring us all with her poetry and connecting with children and youth who have similar experiences to her own.

Donate now to help Karlyn and the more than 600 children and youth Kaleidoscope serves in Chicago each year.

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Looking for a great gift or some hard-to-find tickets? Kaleidoscope is now a beneficiary of Tix4cause! When you purchase someone’s unused tickets to sports, concerts or other events, you can choose Kaleidoscope as the charity beneficiary of some or all of your purchase. Start searching on their website for your next night out:

City Bureau’s Public Newsroom: Reporting Child Welfare in Illinois

Kaleidoscope co-designed this public newsroom with Illinois Humanities to focus on reporting on child welfare in Illinois. The evening featured a small panel discussion including a leading direct service agent, a journalist, a young woman who’s gone through the system and a representative from the Illinois Collaboration on Youth (ICOY). Afterward, panelists and attendees generated a list of best practices for reporters who want to thoughtfully report on this topic as well as a series of tip sheets on how to navigate various parts of the child welfare system.

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Learn more about City Bureau’s Public Newsroom program.

Find Your Future Meet & Greet

Professionals are invited to join us on Thursday, November 9 to learn more about and get involved with our innovative Find Your Future program, through which we match current and former foster youth with paid internships and job skills training at companies across Chicago.

In the last year, we matched 24 young people with 21 internship providers, including: Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Windy City Times, RELO Direct, Valid USA, Acceleration Pro, Christopher House and the Chicago Police Department.

At our upcoming Meet & Greet, you’ll hear from current and former internship providers, learn the requirements and meet our dedicated young people.

Learn more and register.

Find Your Future in action

Kaleidoscope 4 Kids Chicago Find Your Future Jobs Internships - DCFS Foster Kids Youth

Congratulations to Rapheal on his new role at RELO Direct, Inc.!

Rapheal gained professional experience through our Find Your Future (FYF) program, which matches current and former DCFS-involved youth with paid internships, job skills training and other development opportunities. As a FYF employment partner, RELO Direct got to see first-hand what an amazing communicator and motivator Rapheal is when he spoke at our FYF closing luncheon last summer.

Now one month after graduating from Lake Forest College, Rapheal has accepted a position in RELO Direct’s communications department.

Find Your Future is a win-win for our youth and employment partners. Young adults gain professional experience and build their networks, while employers get excellent interns and help shape Chicago’s future leaders. Learn more about Find Your Future and how to get involved.

Release: DCFS-involved youth ‘find their futures’ in Chicago’s business community

DCFS-involved youth ‘find their futures’ in Chicago’s business community

Innovative program matches 24 youth with paid internships at leading companies

CHICAGO – As many young people enjoy relaxing at the beach during Chicago’s summers, a special 24 young adults are being recognized for their outstanding commitment to professional development through the Find Your Future program.

Developed by the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS), Find Your Future is an innovative professional enrichment program that matches current and former DCFS-involved youth with paid internships, job skills training and other career development opportunities. The program is managed by Kaleidoscope, a non-profit child welfare agency that reviews the rigorous applications, recruits businesses to participate and facilitates additional workshops to reinforce professional skills.

“Find your Future is a unique and rewarding partnership between employers and our youth,” said Kaleidoscope Executive Director Kathy Grzelak, LCPC. “Through their internships, these young people gain invaluable work experience, build their professional networks and are able to compete with their peers in today’s job market.”

Over the last year, Kaleidoscope secured internships for 24 young adults at a total of 21 businesses across the city. Business partners include: Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Windy City Times, Valid USA, RELO Direct, Acceleration Pro, Christopher House, and the Chicago Police Department.

“Some of the largest companies in Chicago have opened their doors to young people in need in our community,” said Grzelak. “Our business partners set the bar high for what it means to be an innovative, committed leader within our city. We’re proud to have their support in developing our future leaders.”

A luncheon is being held to honor these young people on Thursday, August 4. Camille Grayson, Senior Marketing Manager of Zekelman Industries, will open with remarks on behalf of Kaleidoscope’s board of directors. This event is not open to the public.

Kaleidoscope is a non-profit child welfare agency that has been serving children and families impacted by abuse and neglect since 1973. Our goal is to keep children safe within a home environment through innovative service delivery. Our mission is to empower children, youth and families impacted by abuse and neglect to build resourcefulness, resiliency and supportive relationships. Learn more at

Stories that Spark: Sylvester

Sylvester had a tough childhood, and through his involvement in so many DCFS programs, he felt as though he lived 35 different lives. We at Kaleidoscope have been very lucky to have known Sylvester in his latest life and to have watched him grow into the remarkable, motivated young man he has become. Listen to Sylvester’s story about how Kaleidoscope got him on the right path.

Donate now to help Sylvester and the more than 600 children and youth Kaleidoscope serves in Chicago each year.

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Kaleidoscope Nights with Chicago White Sox

Our friends at the Chicago White Sox are offering discounted tickets, and a portion of each ticket sold will benefit Kaleidoscope and the children, youth and families we serve! This applies to two games:

  • White Sox v. Cleveland Indians
    Friday, July 28 at 7:10 p.m.
  • White Sox v. Detroit Tigers
    Saturday, August 26 at 7:10 p.m.

Lower box tickets are $36 each, outfield reserve tickets are $23 each, and parking is $20. Order now to cheer on the Sox while helping Kaleidoscope! Visit this page on their website, or use this PDF form.

New Board Member: Dianne Amos

We are pleased to welcome Dianne Amos, CRP, SGMS-T, Senior Vice President, Client Services for RELO Direct®, Inc. to our board of directors. Read RELO Direct’s press release here.

Winter Arts Camp: Meet our Artists

We and our young people are grateful for the overwhelming support of our Winter Arts Camp this #GivingTuesday. Generous donors contributed $7,130 to support the camp, which will help our children and youth express themselves, connect with the vibrant arts community in Chicago and stay safe when they’re out of school. Learn more here.

Meet the artists who will be leading workshops for our young people! These artists have collaborated with our clinical teams to develop lessons and projects that will best connect with our young people as they continue healing from abuse and neglect.

karlyn-boens-copy dexter-cohen-copy jacquelyn-jamjoom-copy
Karlyn Boens Dexter Cohen Jacquelyn Jamjoom




Tess Kisner E’mon Lauren Bilal Othman



Hannah Shea Nathaniel Stewart


Karlyn Boens, Spoken Word Teaching Artist and Camp Counselor

Born and raised on the West Side of Chicago, Karlyn is a 19 year old Spoken Word Artist. She attends Trinity Christian College where she studies Social Work and Criminal Work. As a former Guthman Intern with Young Chicago Authors, she takes pride in her chapter book, Finding Bethany. She is a former Louder Than A Bomb participant and has written poetry and blogs, as a Civil Scholar, for the Aspen Institute. Karlyn continues to write, perform and teach for herself and organizations such as Young Chicago Authors and Between The Lines. In the future, Karlyn hopes to open a community center that reaches out to delinquents, abused men and women, and anyone with a passion for art through vocals, writing and painting.

Dexter Cohen, Blue Island Camp Counselor

10 months out of the year Dexter builds big things with adults at Steadfast Development and Construction. 2 months out of the year he builds big things with kids at Beam Camp. He’s excited to spend a week building things with kids in Chicago.

Jacquelyn Jamjoom, Coordinator of our Field Trip to CineSpace

Jacquelyn Jamjoom is the Director of Operations/Executive Producer of Digital Hydra, a full service boutique production and creative development company in Chicago. She says: “Working in a creative field, it’s easy to forget about what’s truly important in life and why I got into this field in the first place. I’m thrilled to be working with Kaleidoscope and grateful for the opportunity to give back to my community and give young people the tools to tell their own stories, stories that are often swept aside. The film industry is a stubborn industry that is slow to change, but we can be the start of rapid growth if we continue to work with children and teenagers to prepare them for these opportunities and let them know there’s a place for them here.”

Tess Kisner, DJing Teaching Artist

Tess Kisner, a visual artist from Baton Rouge, acquired a set of turntables in 2009 after being turned on to exploring vinyl as a new medium. She uncovered her undying passion for music and a powerful new art practice in the form of a dance party. Tess is known for her vibrant energy on stage, singing to her audience and mixing old school into contemporary music.

E’mon Lauren, Spoken Word Teaching Artist

E’mon Lauren explores the philosophies and intersectionalities of womanism and the hood. She holds the most recent title of Chicago’s first and very own Youth Poet Laureate by Young Chicago Authors and New York City Urban Word Press, as well as many other slam awards. Between food breaks, E’mon studies the elemental practice of words and the economy they hold. She currently works as a freelance, paid performer and teaching artist in Chicago, and makes efforts to challenge the silencing of youth’s stories through their diasporas.

Bilal Othman, Damen Camp and Blue Island Camp Volunteer

Bilal Othman aka the Arabian Knight is a freshman studying marketing at the University of Illinois at Chicago. A former participant in YOUmedia, he makes films and clothes and other things, and he is an editor of a forthcoming arts and culture magazine at UIC. He enjoys helping kids to tell their own stories through film, the more fantastical the better!

Hannah Shea, Damen Camp Volunteer

Hannah Shea is a graduate student in poetry in Baltimore missing Chicago and excited to spend time making art outside of the classroom with kids whose imaginations are at peak magicalness.

Nathaniel Stewart, Film Teaching Artist and Camp Volunteer

Nathaniel M. Stewart is an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studying Broadcast-Journalism & Sociology. He’s interested in finding a way to collaborate these two degrees so that he can effectively affect peoples lives through interpersonal and media skills.  He is excited to be a part of the Kaleidoscope Arts Camp because it is a great opportunity to teach up and coming students, and possibly learn a few things along the way!