​Ci3 announces career services project for LGBTQ youth in Chicago

University crest engraved

The University of Chicago’s Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Innovation (Ci3) in Sexual and Reproductive Health has launched its LGBTQ Career Services Project. This Ci3 project, made possible by a generous anonymous gift, is specifically dedicated to helping LGBTQ youth and young adults gain the skills needed to seek, secure, and maintain employment. The initiative will also assist participants with completion of their GED requirements, registering or enrolling in community college or technical schools, and completing financial aid applications.

Recent studies suggest that LGBTQ youth often live in poverty and experience high rates of homelessness; have limited access to health care, including HIV prevention and care services; and feel they have fewer economic opportunities. Ci3 research indicates that these barriers can be difficult to overcome and directly impact a transgender young person’s likelihood of obtaining secure employment, and finding careers with upward trajectories, stable housing, and access to health insurance.

To spearhead this project, Ci3 has hired an LGBTQ Career Services Specialist to lead the program’s recruitment and to serve as an onsite coach for program participants. In this position, Myles Lawter (they/them) will provide job readiness skills, assist in career mapping, and be a resource for education-related resources. Lawter will also establish corporate and public sector partnerships to help ensure participant job placements at companies and organizations that value LGBTQ equality, uphold protection policies, and promote inclusivity in the workplace.

The LGBTQ Career Services Project supports Ci3’s Work2Prevent program, which seeks to demonstrate how employment and job readiness skills can prevent adolescent homelessness, drug use, and migration to other “street economies” associated with increased risk for HIV infection among young transgender women of color and young Black and Latinx men who have sex with men.

“There is an opportunity to both nationally and locally – especially on Chicago’s Southside – increase career services to the LGBTQ community. This project will provide job placement and career readiness programs that may put LGBTQ youth on track for long-term financial stability and better health outcomes,” said Darnell N. Motley, PhD, Ci3 Senior Researcher and the site principal investigator for Work2Prevent. “As we aim to bridge social disparities and support economic stability among those most in need, Myles will be an invaluable advocate, mentor, and outreach leader.”

Toolkits developed by the Work2Prevent study will serve as a resource for other life skills based interventions and can be used by other community organizations.

“Despite decreasing numbers of new HIV infections among other demographic groups, the rates of HIV among young men of color who have sex with men and young transgender women of color continue to increase,” said Brandon Hill, PhD, Ci3’s Executive Director and Principal Investigator for Work2Prevent. “Work2Prevent aims to provide evidence that economic stability for sexual and gender minority youth will ultimately help to prevent HIV high-risk behaviors such as drug use and sex work.”

Work2Prevent is funded by the National Institutes of Health Adolescent Medicine Trials Network (ATN) for HIV/AIDS Interventions. The ATN works collaboratively with researchers from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Boston Children’s Hospital, and the Illinois University of Chicago (UIC) Department of Psychiatry.


Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Innovation (Ci3) in Sexual and Reproductive Health

Established in 2012, Ci3 is a University of Chicago research center that addresses the social and structural determinants of adolescent sexual and reproductive health with innovative labs that create games, digital narratives, and design interventions with and for youth.

Learn more about Ci3