Congratulations to the Elevating Youth Voices $10,000 Grant Recipients

August 20, 2019

Announcing the Elevating Youth Voices Grant Recipients

In 2019, Bright Promises Foundation has celebrated our 150th anniversary with a new special initiative to elevate the voices of the next generation of leaders of our city and our world.

In addition to our regular programs, we launched a year-long initiative called Elevating Youth Voices to support and celebrate Metropolitan Chicago youth who are actively working to improve their communities by expanding opportunities to showcase their powerful work, and by providing funds to organizations that promote youth-led social change.

The goal of the Elevating Youth Voices initiative is to offer a platform to amplify the voices of youth leaders in Metropolitan Chicago and to invest in the continued development of young people who are working actively to improve their communities.
Watch the youth-made videos below to learn more about the Elevating Youth Voices grant recipients. Congratulations to these outstanding youth leaders! We are proud to support you.


Arab American Action Network - Youth Organizing Program

Arab American Action Network’s (AAAN) Youth Organizing Program fosters youth development through interactive programming led by teens themselves. AAAN will use their Elevating Youth Voices grant to support the Story Collection Project, which describes the effects of racial profiling by widely publicizing anonymous interviews with affected community members.

The AAAN Youth Leadership Team has received professional training in interview techniques by allies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and has selected a list of community members they want to interview. With Bright Promises support, youth leaders from AAAN will purchase professional video and audio recording equipment and project supplies, allowing them to add a visual component to the storytelling by creating a video series showing the effects of racial profiling.


True Star Media - Lucid Dreams

True Star Media provides young people real-world experiences in developing professional media. True Star will use their Elevating Youth Voices grant to create Lucid Dreams: My Life with...Anxiety, Depression, and Suicidal Ideation, a series of podcasts, short videos and social media content created for and by teens coping with mental illness. Students in the True Star program work alongside industry professionals, and all the media produced in True Star programs is produced by youth actually learning from doing.

The stories shared through Lucid Dreams will take on many forms, including storytelling, video, poem, music, song, or art. True Star will format content for social media and also create interactive "feelings" polls via Insta stories. Students will also reach out to and collaborate with social media influencers like Demetrius Harmon to discuss his journey with anxiety/depression or Chicago rap artist Cupcakke who recently tweeted about possibly taking her own life.  The project with culminate with a wrap up video of coping mechanisms and resources.


National Museum of Mexican Art - Yollocalli Youth Council
Yollocalli Arts Reach, the youth initiative of the National Museum of Mexican Art, is a safe and nurturing environment that enables a progressive dialogue in urban and youth culture. The Yollocalli Youth Council will use their Elevating Youth Voices grant to host two teen nights and to provide the start-up capital for a new revenue generating project - Yollo Photo Booth.

The Yollo Photo Booth is a way to provide career skills to youth, generate revenue for Youth Council projects, and build community relationships with schools and other organizations. The Yollo Photo Booth will set up a personalized photo booth for school and youth events throughout Chicago, with youth as lead photographers and set designers. Clients will be able to receive quality service as well as feel connected to Yollocalli and its Youth Council members, knowing that the service they paid for will help with future youth projects.   


Elevating Youth Voices - Youth Leaders of Storycatchers Theater

Storycatchers Theater - Chicago Police Department Collaboration
Storycatchers helps youth within the criminal justice system to change their lives and emerge successfully from court involvement. Storycatchers will use their Elevating Youth Voices grant to expand their ongoing project with the Chicago Police Department (CPD), generating additional opportunities for youth-led engagement with recruits and veteran police officers. Storycatchers and the CPD collaborate to foster a direct line of communication between justice-involved youth and recruits in order to break down stereotypes and dispel police bias in a new generation of officers. The project uses storytelling and musical theatre to improve communications and reduce violent interactions between the CPD and youth living in high-crime Chicago neighborhoods. 

A primary objective is for recruits new to the force to hear directly from justice-involved youth about the environmental and systemic factors that contribute to high rates of youth incarceration and recidivism and to support alternatives to incarceration as well as more peaceful methods of community policing. Storycatchers also designs the program to disrupt stereotypical views of the police among reentry youth.


Northwest Side Housing Center - Belmont Cragin Youth Council
The Belmont Cragin Youth Leadership Council helps youth whose families struggle financially, so they will use their Elevating Youth Voices grant to promote and provide safe transportation options for their peers, 90% of whom are residing in low-income households. They will use the funds to buy bikes for youth in order to take advantage of the safety-enhanced bike lanes that our BCYLC fought so hard to improve and to host free block party events for youth of all ages at different locations in their community to encourage bicycle transportation as a healthy, safe (and inexpensive) way to travel.

The youth-led Belmont Cragin Youth Leadership Council (BCYLC) grew out of the Belmont Cragin community’s need to better engage the one-third (approximately 27,000) young people under the age of 19 living in the community. The Youth Council began in 2016 and is a community-wide youth organization with teens from local Chicago Public High Schools (Steinmetz College Prep, Prosser Career Academy, and Foreman High Schools). The main goal of this group is leadership development and community-organizing skills training.