Elvis Ortega

Fighting for youth and their education

Age: 39

Title: At-Risk Youth Coordinator
Name of Organization: Back of The Yards College Preparatory High School

Bio: Elvis Ortega fought to get into college, fought for a career and now fights for youth in a high-need community.

Ortega has worked hands-on with troubled youth to get them back into school and enrolled in community college. He also worked in a director-level position to keep Latinos engaged and ensure they earn their degree. He was later asked to elevate his involvement and lead an effort by the University of Illinois at Chicago to ensure Latino students could graduate in four years and obtain employment upon graduation. Ortega then made the jump to empower parents and the families of the youth he has helped through the Chicago Public Schools system.

Ortega made the decision to return to Back of the Yards, where he began his career, to work with youth at the high school level. Currently, he is an at-risk youth coordinator responsible for the guidance and support of students who require additional assistance to achieve their academic and personal goals. Aside from helping a full caseload of youth, Ortega is pursuing a second master’s degree in education.

He also carves out time to work on his own custom, handcrafted furniture company, 1840 Creative, in the same neighborhood where he serves. As a small business owner, Ortega is in charge of operations and all the steel work that goes through 1840 Creative.