Kidz Express was a dream of the founders, Warren King and Duane Ehresman, to provide programs and services that helped build self-esteem in inner city children, exposed children to the larger world around them and bridged the gap between the Austin area of Chicago and Oak Park. Kidz Express originally partnered with Austin Messiah Lutheran Church in order to provide these services and bridge the gap between the two communities. Following the untimely death of Austin Messiah's pastor, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church became the sole supporting organization for Kidz Express. Kidz Express evolved into an organization focused on developing mentoring relationships with children from the Quincy and Central neighborhoods within Austin.
Growing and Taking Root in the Community
Today Kidz Express is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
In May of 2005, Kidz Express acquired our building at 342 S. Laramie on the west side of Chicago. Kidz Express transformed this building into a neighborhood youth community center, allowing us to increase the depth and breadth of the programs we offer as well locate and expand directly into the community and provide our children a safe gathering place. The youth community center opened in September of 2005.
After ten years in the Laramie building, Kidz Express had outgrown our space. In 2015, we acquired the closed CPS Leland School. The new building allows us the space to increase our participants from 50 a day to 175 – 200 a day. Kidz Express Youth Center is a consistent influence in our neighborhood that positively impacts our neighborhood children and youth, their families, and our community.