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Posted: 01/01/2007
Stories from the Field

Urban Gateways: Center for Arts Education
Chicago, Illinois

A successful partnership with a community organization can play an important role in an afterschool program. Just ask associate program director Marissa Reyes of Urban Gateways (UG), a nonprofit that plans and directs arts programs in the Chicago area. UG works with six Chicago-area community schools to organize afterschool arts activities such as mural painting, mosaics, theater, percussion, hip-hop dance, ballet folklorico, Web page design, photography, and other arts activities.

Recently, UG collaborated with Chavez Multicultural Academic Center to hold a street festival at the end of the afterschool program’s first year. Chavez is in a neighborhood with high poverty and crime rates. Activities at the festival included “make and take” art projects, student performances, meetings with community service providers, and a taco sale fundraiser held by the Parent Committee.

“The need for a safe center in the community was crucial for providing alternatives for the youth and families in the community,” Reyes says. “The event was an unqualified success, serving to highlight the Chavez-UG partnership and promoting our program offerings so that the following year, participation in most classes was nearly at capacity.”

Reyes attributes the successful partnership between schools and the nonprofit to the fact that UG and afterschool staff work together in several capacities. “Although UG is primarily an arts education organization, the partnership works to ensure that all programs are held to high academic standards and that all address youth development goals,” she says.

Read this story in the January 2007 issue of Afterwords.

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