BUILD (Broader Urban Involvement & Leadership Development) is one of Chicago’s leading gang intervention, violence prevention and youth development organizations. Their mission is to engage at-risk youth in schools and on the streets to help them realize their potential and contribute to their communities. Since 1969, BUILD has helped thousands of young people transform their lives, and today reaches over 6,500 youth and families annually with caring adult mentors and a rich variety of experiences in the arts, athletics, college & career preparation, entrepreneurship, leadership development, technology and mental health programming.
The BUILD Arts Academy was launched in 2016 by Ric Miranda, a talented member of their gang intervention team whose art drove his own transformation. This program reflects the activist zeal of BUILD’s youth, amplifying their marginalized voices and celebrating the creativity, vision and leadership they have inside. BUILD believes that art has the unique ability to help young people process the complex emotions born from navigating life in their underrersourced and traumatized communities on the South and West Sides. Youth in these areas face the sustained trauma of community violence. BUILD fosters their understanding of the power of art to draw attention to inequities and other difficult truths and helps them discover and cultivate their voices, working with them to inspire one another and their communities to effect change.
Arts of Life advances the creative arts community by providing artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities a collective space to expand their practice and strengthen their leadership. Arts of Life is a 501(c)3 non-profit founded in January 2000 with a shared vision: to create a working, person-centric, artistic community while providing a work environment of equality in Chicago. Motivated by founding artist Veronica Cuculich, along with two co-directors, Arts of Life brought nine other individuals with developmental disabilities to create the organization they are today. Their shared vision grew from a passion for artistic expression and a need for an alternative system.
For artists at Arts of Life, a career in the visual arts is an opportunity for meaningful employment. Each artist has their own studio space and works independently from individualized project plans or receives 1:1 visual arts facilitation to increase their artistic skill set. Artists earn a monthly stipend for participation in the program with eligibility to receive bonuses based on personal annual art sales. Today, they have two professional art studios and represent over 60 artists with varying levels of physical and intellectual disabilities.