One Summer in Back of the Yards

Community leaders, 9th District Police Officers and Hoops in the Hood coordinators and coaches get together for a group photo. (The Gate/Gloria Talamantes)

Community leaders, 9th District Police Officers and Hoops in the Hood coordinators and coaches get together for a group photo. (The Gate/Gloria Talamantes)


BYNC launched Hoops in the Hood on Saturday, July 8th with a registration event at the Back of the Yards College Preparatory. Former Chicago Bulls player, Dave Corzine gave tips and pointers to the young players. The DePaul basketball crew, LISC Local Initiatives Support Corporation, and the 9th District Police were there in support of the youth and the Hoops in the Hood summer programming. Hoops in the Hood games are held every Friday from now until August 18th with a tournament and award ceremony at Back of the Yards College Prep H.S. All Hoops in the Hood leagues from across the city will come together on August 19th for the Cross City Championship, at Grant Park.
For close to a decade, the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council has served as a hub for the One Summer Chicago youth jobs. The BYNC places close to 200 young people ages 16-24 from the Back of the Yards and the greater South Side in jobs at local organizations and businesses. They begin the process by applying for a position on the One Summer Chicago website in the spring.  

“One Summer Chicago provides youth a meaningful work experience that ” said Edwin Garcia, BYNC’s finance director, and One Summer Chicago coordinator.  

The One Summer Chicago is a city-wide summer program that hires teens and young adults ages 14 to 24 all throughout community neighborhood organizations, government institutions, and local businesses and companies.  


Hoops in the Hood youth dribble the basketball across the court during a drill. (The Gate/Gloria Talamantes)

For 19-year-old Pierre Manzo, who was hired at Los Altos restaurant through the One Summer Chicago program, acquiring work readiness skills at a local level has been a new learning experience. 

“Having a menial job is something I’ve always wanted to do, just to have the experience, I think it should be something everyone should do regardless of whether [they] go to school or have a good job, I’m happy I did it,” said Manzo.  

Emiyuki Gantes, a 17-year-old, Back of the Yards native says it has been fun and this opportunity to work this summer has helped her with her socializing skills. Gantes works at The Port Ministries in Back of the Yards where she helps Darlena Allen with the summer camp kids.  

“It’s fun, I see the kids every day and have to help them with their math and reading for next year and there’s art projects,” said Gantes, who is learning how to divide her time with the children. “They’ll come up to you and say “ hey, come play with me, come play with me” so you have to play with all of them but not at the same time–it’s pretty fun.”  

When Gantes heard about the option to work with kids she immediately took the opportunity to work at The Port Ministries. Gantes, who is interested in becoming a pediatrician one day, said that she believes that the opportunity will help her. 

“It’s helping me to be more of a kid so I can work with them later on, that’s really helping out a lot.” said Gantes.  

One of the most popular work assignments is support staff for the Hoops in the Hood program.  

Hoops in the Hood is a summer basketball league with tournaments in Back of the Yards. 

The summer basketball youth league engages youth ages 10 to 17 years-old through a six-week program held at schools and parks throughout Back of the Yards and surrounding neighborhoods.  

Anthony Jefferson, a 21-year-old Back of the Yards native works with BYNC’s Hoops in the Hood.  Having this job has been a way for him to grow his socializing skills.  

“I like canvassing and putting out flyers,” said Jefferson. “There’s so much going on and I don’t want to be out here in the streets not doing anything with all this free time in my hands so I want to be doing something with kids or elders–keeping [myself] out of trouble.”  

He says he’s picked up skills that will help him throughout his life and in future careers.  

“At first I was a nervous guy, I didn’t want to speak up or participate in anything but now I have overgrown it so now I can speak on behalf of things I have learned or have a little more experience on.”