We’re turning the WYO into an Escape Room!

Our Program Director has devised a series of traps to stop teens from leaving the center…

Bring a team and come together to escape the WYO through solving puzzles and riddles on Friday, September 28th from 7pm-9pm!

$5 Entrance Fee.

Interested? Contact Program Director Mary Komlofske at maryk@winnetkayo.org!

Social Service Saturday

Bike for Winnetka!

On Saturday, September 29th at 2:50 pm – 4:00 pm teen volunteers are needed to encourage and direct bikers during their ride in town!

Interested? Contact Program Director Mary Komlofske at maryk@winnetkayo.org!


The mission of the Winnetka Youth Organization (WYO) is to foster individual development in junior high & high school youth in the North Shore by providing adult-to-youth mentoring, prevention services, opportunities for leadership, citizenship, and education within a safe, informal environment. Through our diverse positive youth development initiatives, we empower adolescents to become more active community members and leaders, while also giving them opportunities to develop confidence in their own talents and skills.

The WYO provides a place where teens can have fun, learn and be themselves in an safe accepting environment.

For over 47 years, the WYO has provided a variety of programs, both recreational, educational, and service oriented. Informally known as “The YO”, the WYO is a place where teens can feel at home, meet new friends, and express individuality with their peers and WYO staff mentors.


The WYO is not a substitute for parental guidance. We are a service to complement and support teens outside of their daily lives and we partner with parents as well as other community agencies to support a holistic approach to wellness. That means nurturing each youth’s individuality, assessing their strengths and weaknesses and building a base of support that they can lean on in times of crisis by:


  • Providing a positive, safe environment where young people can be recognized as individuals
  • Engaging youth in programs designed to develop leadership skills, enhance positive social skills and self-esteem, and advance constructive behavior patterns
  • Sponsoring activities that promote cultural competency and understanding of others
  • Assisting in meeting youth needs for friendship, status, safety, and adult mentoring
  • Offering programs and services that are positive alternatives to adolescent high risk behaviors
  • Facilitating cooperation and communication between the teen population & the community at large
  • Enlisting the support of community members, agencies, and institutions to share financial and physical resources to strengthen service youth.


Stay Current

Make sure you sign-up for our monthly newsletter full of events, news and all things great at the WYO

WYO’s Teen Drop-In Center Hours

Monday – Thursday: 2 PM – 6 PM Friday: 3 PM – 9 PM Saturday: Social Service Days


Maggie Cao, Regular WYO Volunteer

Maggie Cao has been heavily involved in WYO volunteer opportunities, even designing the 2018 T-Shirt! When not helping out the WYO, Maggie is very active in a variety of activities, including violin with the New Trier Symphony Orchestra, debate tournaments, New Trier’s Varsity Fencing Team, and New Trier’s math and chess teams. Maggie’s favorite color is green!

When asked, Maggie said about volunteering, “I really value chances to give back to my community, and the fact that the WYO has weekly service events… meant I had the chance every week to do something for my community and those around me and I can find my passion through helping a variety of causes.” We are so grateful to Maggie for taking time out of her busy schedule to volunteer often with the WYO! Thank you for being part of the WYO team!

Want to Help Out?

Your help is greatly appreciated

Donations are a great way to help the WYO provide our teens with educational programs, technology, and more. Your donation can be  easily made via PayPal. We thank you for your support.

Our Team

Our Team Leaders help organize and guide our program to great heights

Molly Dolkart

Molly Dolkart

Board of Directors Chair


Christina Gikas

Christina Gikas

Executive Director


Nina VanPopering

Nina VanPopering

Youth Board President


What our teens think

“I had a great time during my interactions with the WYO. I am happy to be a part of this group. My first experience with the WYO is the house renovation. After that, I volunteered for the Kids Against Hunger event. To me, the WYO is a great place to make new friends, hang out with friends, practice problem-solving skills, and volunteer to do something for other people. I will keep participating in volunteer events in the future. The WYO is a place to have fun”

Hope Pu

8th grader, Washburne Middle School

“I love being a part of Youth Board because it’s a fun way to give back to the community and is also rewarding to see the work we do paying off through the joy of other teens. What I gained through this experience with a position on a board is handling responsibility and practice bringing positivity to the community.”

Renee Affinito

Sophmore at New Trier High School, Youth Board Communications Chair

Our Sponsors. We Thank You.

Reach Us

Winnetka Youth Organization

620 Lincoln Avenue, Winnetka, IL. 60093


Winnetka Youth Organization