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CAC’s Teen Fellows program provides youth from the city of Chicago with a unique opportunity to build foundational architecture skills.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Teen Fellows, developed by participating youth, is to explore the past, experience the present and design the future. As a dedicated community of hands-on learners, Fellows question and identify how the built environment applies to their lives.

This three-semester commitment program is offered at no cost to selected participants, and gives incoming sophomores, juniors and seniors enrolled in Chicago high schools the chance to explore architecture and design careers, earn college credit and work alongside industry professionals. During the program, Fellows:

  • Attend college courses at Harold Washington College, earning dual credits with CPS and City Colleges of Chicago
  • Explore Chicago’s built environment and how it changes over time
  • Work with physical models using various materials
  • Develop design projects focused on local challenges and begin building personal portfolios
  • Develop digital designs using the following software: Sketch-up, AutoCad, Rhinoceros, Revit, Illustrator, indesign & Photoshop
  • Visit architecture firms and architecturally significant sites
  • Earn a stipend through CAC’s partnership with After School Matters (ASM) to cover personal expenses while attending program such as lunch & transportation
  • Have the opportunity to participate in a paid summer internship at a local architecture or design firm

Program Schedule

  • March 31: applications due
  • April: Interviews start
  • May: Selected Fellows informed and begin on-boarding
  • Summer #1: Fellows meet Monday-Thursday for 6 weeks, with alternating CAC and college coursework
  • Fall: Fellows meet for 7 hours for 16 Saturdays, with alternating CAC and college coursework and with breaks aligned with school calendars
  • Spring: Fellows meet for 7 hours for 16 Saturdays, with alternating CAC and college coursework and with breaks aligned with school calendars
  • Summer #2: Fellows are eligible for placement in a paid internship or additional HWC coursework

Participation Expectations

Fellows are expected to attend every scheduled session and actively participate in all exercises, discussions, projects, site visits, and field trips, missing no more than four days each semester. They must complete all college course work from HWC—grades will be reflected on official college transcripts. As representatives of Chicago Architecture Center, Fellows are expected to act accordingly, in the design studios and off sites. Respect for others and their opinions will be crucial to a healthy team dynamic, and will allow every participant to learn and explore in a safe and civil environment. Fellows earn a stipend each semester of the program based on attendance, participation and communication.


Teen Fellows is open to incoming sophomores, juniors and seniors who attend high school in the city of Chicago and are able to commit to the entire program. The CAC is committed to increasing access to students from populations historically under-represented in architecture, construction and engineering and design, including BIPOC youth and those who identify as female.


Applications for the Summer 2024-Spring 2025 program are closed.


Programming will be in-person only. The CAC and Harold Washington will work to provide computers to all youth participants.


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Teen Fellows is supported by Turner Construction Company Foundation, Wintrust, and the Old National Bank Foundation.

Lead Sponsor
Major Sponsor

Supporting Sponsor
ONB Foundation
Program Partners 
CCC HW After School Matters