Help us empower at risk youth and change lives.


Provide at risk youth in Chicago-land communities with SKILLS, RESOURCES, AND OPPORTUNITIES.


  • Volunteer
  • Join the Youth Program
  • Become a Community Partner
  • Become a Business Partner

Rodney Henderson, Networking Technician,Technology Director - Rodney Currently has an Associate Degree in Applied Science from Robert Morris University and has been working for the University of Chicago, IT Services for two years.

Born and raised in Illinois, and now seeing the struggles of our youth today. I am very eager to participate and help give our children opportunities and education to live a productive life. Our children are the future but it is up to us as adults to provide them with the necessary tools to guide them in having a successful life. Being a part of Pop Up Youth is giving me the opportunity to do just that. He is currently on the Board of the Pop Up Youth Center.

Lydia Gillus MBA, Vice President - Lydia works with youth to provide them STEM educational activities and currently serves on the Board of the Pop Up Youth Center as the Vice President.

Lydia has a degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Loyola University Chicago. In her spare time she is the chapter advisor for the Chicagoland National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Jr chapter.

A native Detroiter, Lydia has lived in the Chicago suburbs since 2000. She is married with a daughter and a son.

Jeffrey Baker, Y.A.R.D Director - Jeff was born and raised on Chicago's far west side, but has spent the last 15 years as a resident of the Woodlawn and Auburn Gresham communities. Jeffrey is a husband and father of 3, an Army National Guard veteran, a Commercial Truck Driver from 6a.m. to 2p.m., and a community organizer from 3p.m. to 6a.m.

His years of community organizing and volunteering has allowed him the opportunity to gain experience through his positions as; LSC Interim President for Ryder Elementary School, President of The Committee For A Better Chicago (CFABC), Volunteer for The National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR), Member of the NAACP-Chicago Southside Branch, Volunteer for the Anti-Eviction Campaign, President of the 20th Ward Regular Democrats and 2nd Vice Chair for The National Black Agenda Consortium.

Mr.Baker is currently building the Y.A.R.D. (Young Adult Resource Directory) & The Industry Ownership and Job Creation Plan (The DuSable Plan), of which he is the visionary. Jeff is currently on the Board of the Pop Up Youth Center.

Connie Yip, MA  - Connie is the Administrator at the University of Chicago's Center for International Studies.  She received her M.A. in International Studies from the University of Sydney and worked as a Program Assistant with the University of Sydney's International Leaders Program.  Originally from Georgia, Connie moved to Chicago in 2013 and is an active member in the community.  She is an event organizer for Asian Professionals Connect Chicago, a member of the Chicago Taiwanese American Professional's Leadership and Professional Development Committee, and a Young Professionals member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Connie is currently an Advisor for the Pop Up Youth Center.

Attiyya Wright, MBA, Communication Director - Attiyya currently serves an as Communication Director for Pop Up Youth Center. She received her B.Sc in Communications in 2012 at Illinois State University along with her MBA in Human Resource Management in 2015 at Robert Morris University. She is currently apart of the AmeriCorps program where she serves as a Volunteer Resource Coordinator for Housing Forward.  Attiyya enjoys volunteering and helping those in underserved communities. She currently resides on the south side of Chicago.

Waukeesha Morris, Treasurer- Waukeesha Morris is a Police Officer with the Chicago Police Department and currently serves on the Board for the Pop Up Youth Center as the Treasurer.

Waukeesha has been working with the City of Chicago since 2005 and is also a licensed real estate agent with Century 21. She received a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Chicago State University in 2002 and is currently working on obtaining a Master Degree in Financial Fraud from Saint Xavier University.

 Waukeesha is a wife and proud mother one daughter, one step daughter and son.  

Antoine Hull,  Business Partnership Director - Antoine currently serves as a Board Member for the Pop Up Youth Center and is currently working for the City of Chicago in the Loop Operations unit.

 In his spare time, he volunteers & assist with various political campaigns helping with voter registrations and passing out critical information about upcoming elections.  He also resides on the Board for his 4 year old son’s school and his 13 & 16 year old daughter’s After School Community Center.  There are various Committees that he is a part of such as Committee for a better Chicago. 

Antoine's life goal is to unify and educate youth and give back to the community as a whole.

Antawana Smothers MBA CPMS, Founder / Executive Director-  Antawana currently has an undergrad in Computer Sciences, an MBA with a minor in International Finance,  a Certification in Project Management and is currently enrolled in a Certification Program at UIC for  Nonprofit Management.  Working on an award winning Security Systems team at the University of Chicago, Antawana serves as the Executive Director of the Pop Up Youth Center. 

Growing up in the Robert Taylor homes in a very large poverty stricken family, Antawana understands the plight of the at risk youth of this day.  Without the encouragement and support of a neighborhood youth center she most likely would have never made it.

Antawana is very passionate about empowering at risk youth and providing them with basic life skills and work experience.  She believes they can overcome any obstacles and become social and economic leaders if they start off with a great and solid foundation.  Providing this foundation is what Antawana is most passionate about.


developing the next generation