Youth Empowerment Program
|Customized to fit individual needs.|
If you or someone you know could benefit from this program, you are just looking for more information, or you represent an organization that would like to become a community partner, please call Elgin 311 (847-931-6001) or email firstname.lastname@example.org to be connected to the program leadership team. Individual contact information is also provided below.
The Elgin Police Department's Operation Homefront Program began in 2009, and since its inception, over 400 home visits were conducted with parents. After presenting this program's information along with information on the School Resource Officer Program to Elgin City Council in October 2020, the police department initiated a comprehensive review and analysis of the program, working with department personnel, community members, Councilmember Corey Dixon and Christopher Mallette of CKone, LLC. Through those discussions, the Youth Empowerment Program was developed. The Youth Empowerment Program offers a more robust response to juvenile outreach, prevention, and intervention. In June of 2022, CKone, LLC's, Christopher Mallette and Charles Perry, who were hired for the development, management, training, and implementation of the program, transitioned away from the program. The program is led by community liaisons Jeff Ligon and Aaron Cobbs, as well as Elgin Police Department's Special Investigations Detective Will Yucaitis, and Officer Mike Fuller.
The Youth Empowerment Program centers on a multidisciplinary partnership between the school district, community-based organizations, faith-based agencies and the police department, with the goals of decreasing juvenile violence, arrests, gang involvement (activity and membership), decreasing high school dropout rates, and increasing high school graduation rates. The Youth Empowerment Program is grounded in restorative justice practices, which seek to understand and repair the harm that was done and relationships rather than punishment. The program offers a community-based approach, fostering open communication channels between all partners so that mitigating factors surrounding incidents can be discussed before reaching the level of actionable police involvement.
Program participants are identified by the multidisciplinary partnership for focused family visits, which offer a balanced collaborative approach to providing violence prevention programs/opportunities and intervention along with training in the identification of violence indicators for parents. The program prioritizes follow-up visits to participants focusing on connecting youth and families to social and emotional support services. The core needs of each participant are considered in an effort to enhance both educational and career development opportunities.
María Borrero has been working as a Community Outreach Specialist in the Elgin Police Department for over 2 years. She has over 10 years of experience in the area of Community Outreach which include being a member of the Bilingual Family School Liaison team for School District 300 where she helped families of students with disabilities and bilingual needs. Prior to working for District 300 she served as a Program Coordinator for the Barrio Arts Program at the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Chicago. María was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, she moved to Elgin in 2008, and graduated from Elgin Community College in 2011. She earned her BA in Sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and finished her Minor in Spanish Literature at the University of Deusto in Bilbao, Spain. She is currently on the advisory committee for the Elgin Police Department Explorers Post, and is currently a member of the Board of Directors for multiple groups including Food for Greater Elgin, Elgin Hispanic Network, and Centro de Información.
Detective Will Yucaitis has served with the Elgin Police Department for 15 years, starting his career on night shift patrol. During his time on patrol, he became an evidence technician. Detective Yucaitis also served on EPD's SWAT team for approximately six years. For the past ten years, Detective Yucaitis has worked in the Special Investigations Group (SIG) and is currently assigned as a detective in the group. Yucaitis is certified in Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) and is a member of the EPD's “Operation Shattered Stars” peer support group.
Officer Mike Fuller started his career with the Elgin Police Department in December of 2014 after graduating from Western Illinois University with a Bachelors degree in Law Enforcement and Justice Administration and a minor in Business Management. During college, Officer Fuller also interned with the United States Marshals Service. In 2016, Officer Fuller was assigned to the Special Investigations Group, and is one of two gang intelligence officers in the group. Officer Fuller has been certified in the data acquisition for the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) since 2017, and had also served as an operator on EPD's SWAT team for approximately 6 years. Officer Fuller is also certified in Crisis Intervention Training (CIT).
Just months after graduating from Larkin High School early January 2001, Jeff was incarcerated. From April 2001 to 2009, he was constantly in and out of the penal system, and then from 2009-2014 he was incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections for various crimes, including drug charges.
Aaron is a proud Elgin community member and U-46 graduate raised locally by a single mother. During his childhood he belonged to many City and school-run youth organizations that ranged from after school care to faith and athletic programming. It was through these programs that he developed life-long friendships, found mentors, and gained a sense of confidence. All of this helped him not only while he was growing up, but were fundamental to the man he has become.
Though he always loved participating in sports, it was on the field at Elgin High where Aaron developed his love of football that would, ultimately, shape his life. His assistant coaching role at his alma mater allows him to draw from his childhood experiences and positively engage with the youth of Elgin. This is an opportunity he knows he is uniquely suited for because of his firsthand knowledge of what it means to grow up in the Elgin community and how vital City programming can be in the structure and resources that their organizations provide.
Aaron looks at the opportunity to help individuals in Elgin as a way to pay forward what the City has done for him. The community, collectively, provided the second parent in his life and the chance to do that for others is what motivates him to continue to push and believe in the next generation of children from Elgin.
Councilman Dixon was born and raised in Elgin. His family moved to Schaumburg, Illinois where he attended elementary school and a year of junior high. Later, his family moved back to the area and he would go on to complete the rest of his schooling; graduating from Abbott Middle School and attending Larkin High School, but would later graduate from Elgin High School. He earned a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management from Grambling State University, a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with a concentration in government from Keller Graduate School of Management and a Certificate in Non-Profit Board Leadership from Northwestern University’s Kellog Center for Nonprofit Management & United Way Board Leadership Institute. He is a former Commissioner with the City of Elgin’s Image Advisory Commission and Planning & Zoning Commission. Councilman Dixon currently serves as a Liquor Commissioner with the City of Elgin; Past-Board Chairman & current board member of Greater Family Health, Alignment Collaborative for Education Board of Directors and Food for Greater Elgin Board of Directors. Councilman Dixon is also a former Classroom Facilitator with School District U-46’s African-American & Hispanic Parent Leadership Institute, Founder of Elgin's Annual Back to School BBQ Bash and Co-founder of the Making Space art project. He's an active Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the Mu Alpha Lambda Chapter. Councilman Dixon currently works for the Kane County Sheriff’s Office where he serves in the role of Senior Assistant Director of Administration. Councilman Dixon is married to Janelle Dixon, Esq. and they are the parents of three girls: Jada, Corinne and Kali. He and his family are members of Second Baptist Church of Elgin, where Councilman Dixon serves as a Deacon.
Youth Empowerment Program - Media Coverage
In the news
- Courier News (2/2/22): Youth support group’s held 12 intervention visits since October, been well-received by families, Elgin officials say
- Daily Herald (8/1/21): Elgin ready to take new, non-police approach with troubled youth
- Courier News (7/29/21): Elgin Police Department’s new program working with teens who get in trouble getting ready to launch