Chicago Youth Leaders Come Together for Elevating Youth Voices Fair

June 18, 2019

On Saturday, June 1 over 100 youth leaders from across Chicagoland came together for the Elevating Youth Voices Fair.

This once-in-a-lifetime gathering of the next generation of leaders of our city and our world was hosted in celebration of Bright Promises Foundation’s 150th Anniversary.

At the Elevating Youth Voices Fair, youth leaders representing 23 youth-led organizations including Gary Comer Youth Center, After School Matters, Arab American Action Network, teh ARK of St. Sabina, Mikva Challenge and many more, shared how they are working to improve their communities through interactive displays and performances. The displays were as dynamic and diverse as the youth leaders who presented them, and included opportunities to build sexual health starter packs and aromatherapy wellness kits, to play a video quiz game about racial profiling, and to record interviews for youth-made podcasts.

Additionally, youth leaders from many organizations performed on the main stage throughout the day, sharing original songs, spoken word poetry, dances, short plays, and personal stories with powerful calls to action.

For the youth leaders who participated in the Elevating Youth Voices Fair, the experience was both fun and valuable. Youth leaders made new connections at the Elevating Youth Voices Fair and met other youth who are also working hard to make their communities stronger and safer.

According to the youth leaders who participated, the most valuable parts of this experience were:

"Watching all of the performances and interacting with the other organizations was an extremely fun and eye-opening time and I look forward to further collaborations." - Fair Participant

For the hundreds of community members who attended the Elevating Youth Voices Fair, the experience was inspirational and motivational too.

“I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time worried about issues like gun violence and climate change, and generally feeling like the future has the potential to be a dark and scary place,” John-Michael, a fair volunteer shared; “After seeing so many youth-led organizations today and listening to what they have to say, I’m way less worried about what’s coming, and more interested in giving kids more power TODAY. We don’t have to wait for the next generation of artists and activists to grow up—they’re already out there working. Instead, it’s our responsibility as adults to keep lifting them up and creating spaces for them to thrive.”

"The youth of this nation are amazing and leading the way!" - Brian, Fair Attendee

Thank you to everyone who attended the Elevating Youth Voices Fair to hear from our youth leaders and learn how you can get more involved in improving communities across Chicagoland. We are grateful to you for helping lift up and celebrate our youth leaders.

Thank you to our outstanding speakers: 150th Anniversary Chair and Bright Promises board member Nancy Snyder, Renee Togher (President, Azteca Foods Inc.), Mark McKinley (Managing Director, William Blair), and Bright Promises board member Ed Davies.

Thank you to the many volunteers who ensured that all of the attendees and fair participants had a great experience, especially the 150th Anniversary Committee, Third Estate Art, photographer Steve Serio, videographer Ciara Medina, the employees of Azteca Foods Inc., and the Junior League of Chicago.

Finally, Bright Promises Foundation offers very special thanks to our sponsors whose generous investment made this celebration of Chicago’s youth leaders possible. Thank you to our Elevating Youth Voices 150th Anniversary Sponsors: Azteca Foods Inc., Diana and Bruce Rauner, Janet and Rodger Owen Trust, William Blair, Gaylord and William Gieseke, Finnegan Family Foundation, Wintrust, Irving Harris Foundation , W. Clement and Jesse V. Stone Foundation, Jay and Bari Rosenbloom, Marilyn Eisenberg, Hyman and Susan Feldman Family Foundation, Swirlz Cupcakes, CampusInk, Yes! Press, Dizzy Cow Candy Shop, and Rescigno’s Mailing Solutions.

Photos by Stephen J. Serio Photography. To view and download additional images, visit