Published: May 3, 2019 Lauren Carrane, Evanston Patch
On June 1, youth leaders from Youth Opportunity United (Y.O.U.), a non-profit organization that serves students in grades 3 through 12 in Evanston and Skokie, will be participating in the Bright Promises' Elevating Youth Voices Non-Profit Fair at Columbia College's Conaway Center, 1104 S. Wabash, from 12 to 3 p.m. The fair is free and open to the public.
Throughout the day, attendees will have the opportunity to explore interactive and educational displays created by youth leaders ages 8 to 19 and to see youth perform on the main stage, presenting DJ sets, recording live podcasts, and performing original plays. In addition, attendees will enjoy free food and take part in a large collaborative art project celebrating the power that young people can have when their voices are heard.
"We think everyone who comes to this event will be amazed and inspired by the work that so many young people are doing to make their community a better place," says Iris Krieg, Executive Director of Bright Promises Foundation. "We hope this fair helps raise the profile of these organizations and inspires more members of the community to help them accomplish their missions."
Of the more than 20 organizations presenting at the fair, Bright Promises will select five organizations that demonstrate outstanding impact to receive a $10,000 grant. The final grant recipients will receive their awards at Bright Promises' 150th Anniversary Awards celebration on Oct. 15.
Organizations were selected to participate in the fair through a highly competitive process. Youth leaders were asked to submit a video where they explained how they would use the $10,000 grant to solve a specific problem facing their community. Issues identified by youth leaders in their videos included access to safe transportation, gun violence, racial profiling, homelessness, sexual assault and more.
At the fair, the Y.O.U. students will educate visitors about their Diverse Communities United (DCU) program, an annual event that is organized entirely by students and is designed to celebrate the civil rights legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. DCU is the only student-led event of its kind on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Every year, the youth committee meets in the summer to decide on the theme for the upcoming DCU event. Topics are chosen based on what youth feel is most relevant to them and their peers based on their lived experiences in the community. Youth consider what issues have been particularly relevant for marginalized communities and work to expand that consideration into a theme that everyone in the community can relate to.
Then, over the next few months, the youth create original artwork and performances directly related to that year's theme, and often, representatives from local theater and art organizations come in to help the youth develop ideas for their projects.
If they receive the $10,000 grant, Y.O.U. plans to use the money to work with more outside arts and theater organizations on the DCU event, as well as use the money to help pay for materials such as T-shirts, supplies, and food.
Krieg says Bright Promises was inspired to create the Elevating Youth Voices Fair in honor of its 150th anniversary.
"As an organization, we have been working to improve children's lives for 150 years, and we think this is the perfect opportunity to do even more to help our youth become the leaders of tomorrow, today," Krieg says.
Bright Promises Foundation is one of the oldest social service agencies in Illinois. Originally named the Illinois Humane Society, the organization was founded in 1869 with a mission of improving the lives of both children and animals in Chicago's burgeoning metropolis.
Today, Bright Promises offers grants and guidance to a wide array of nonprofit organizations. The organization consults experts across various fields relating to children throughout to determine which issues are most underfunded and under-recognized. In the last decade, the organization has funded issues including early childhood education, childhood obesity, childhood trauma, social-emotional learning and more.
"We are proud of the legacy we have created over the last 150 years," Krieg says. "We hope that by continuing to support these important initiatives, we will create a brighter future for all children."
Elevating Youth Voices Nonprofit Fair
Saturday, June 1, 12 p.m.-3 p.m.
Free and open to the public
Conaway Center at Columbia College, 1104 S. Wabash, Chicago IL 60605
Additional information at www.brightpromises.org/150than...