Chicago Area Youth Choir | Midwest Living

Chicago Area Youth Choir

Read below for details on Chicago Area Youth Choir, one of five finalists in Midwest Living's $5,000 Dream-It Do-It Community Challenge.
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    Photo from Performing Arts USA.
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    Photo from Performing Arts USA.
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    Photo from Performing Arts USA.
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    Photo from Performing Arts USA.
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    Photo from Performing Arts USA.

Project title: Chicago Area Youth Choir

Organization: Performing Arts USA (PAUSA)

Nominated by: Mary Ann Borman

The information below was supplied by the nominator on the Dream-It Do-It Challenge application.

Description of project: The mission of Performing Arts USA is to promote, support, empower and facilitate the development of Chicago-area disadvantaged and underserved youth and young adults in the pursuit of the performing arts. With this in mind, PAUSA would like to develop a youth choir for Chicago-area low-income, disadvantaged and underserved youth participants at no cost to them. Thorough the leadership and guidance of experienced volunteer teachers, the participants will learn basic music and singing skills utilizing professional  breathing and projection techniques incorporating tone and range along with learning about song styling. The focus will be towards demonstrating their newly found skills through a presentation of a musical showcase for the community. 

Performing Arts USA addresses the needs of low income, minority and multi-cultural disenfranchised youth in the greater Chicago area. The majority of our targeted youth have experienced extreme poverty, disruptive home lives and lack of positive role models often resulting in life-altering choices such as teen pregnancy, drug use, gang involvement and dropping out of school. 

In a 2013 Chicago Tribune report 77 Chicago areas were analyzed for crime. Five of the areas served by PAUSA ranked in the top seven for the most drug-related crimes. Three of those areas were ranked in the top ten for violent crime.

According to the Chicago Crime Commission, a 2012 Chicago Police Department gang audit found there are more than 600 gang factions in the Chicago area, with a minimum combined membership of 70,000.

According to Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago’s teen birth rate has consistently exceeded the statewide and national rates. In 2008, the Chicago rate was 57% higher than the U.S. rate.

One of the areas being targeted by PAUSA is the North Lawndale neighborhood. This area has one of the highest high school student dropout and pregnancy rates in the Chicago-area school system. The per capita income is $9,109, 130.3% lower than the average Chicago area resident. The unemployment rate is 25.7%, 66.4% lower than the average Chicago area rate.

There has been a dramatic increase in youth crime and gang involvement in the area.

There are few organizations providing youth programs and services in the area, and none specifically directed at the performing arts.

Research shows the benefits of involvement in the performing arts for at-risk youth. Benefits include:

--developing confidence

--promoting self-discipline and self motivation

--developing teamwork and leadership skills

--improving communication

--successful role model examples

--improving academic performance

The youth choir will provide a healthy activity with positive role models for the participating youth, increasing their sense of self worth and accomplishment through learning and demonstrating a new skill. It will culminate in two performances for the community, in which the community can take pride.

We have found that working with disenfranchised youth by assisting them in honing their natural talents has taken them off the streets away from the pull of gangs, drugs and violence, making a significant difference in turning their lives around.

Breakdown of budget: The $5000 will be spent on the equipment and supplies necessary for the formation and production of a youth choir. Other funding is being sought to cover the stipends to instructors and the Executive Director.

Youth Choir Budget 2013-2014

Rehearsal/Performance Space for weekly rehearsal time: $100 mo. x12 mos. = $1200

Choral Group Tee Shirts, for participating youth to identify with the activity and be utilized for performances. 50 @ $12 =$600

Rehearsal Music tapes/CDs necessary for group rehearsal:15 x $12 = $180

Microphones, for practice sessions and performance use 2@ $350 = $700

Rehearsal Recorder/boom box stereo for practice sessions and performance use = $350

Rehearsal Music printing, for practice sessions and recording use: 50 x .90 = $45

Performance Publicity Flyers, to announce the performance to the community 1000 @ .10 = $100

Performance Posters, to post in the community to announce performance .50 x 150 = $75

Equipment rental (chairs) for performances.

2 performances @$500 = $1,000

Bus tickets for youth to attend performances, meetings, presentations, meet performers. 50 youth, 10 trips. Round trip bus ticket @1.50 x 10 = $750

Total Budget  $5000

Action plan for project: A plan for this youth choir is already in place and much of the program plan has already been implemented. Performing Arts USA is seeking grant funding from other sources, but a grant has not yet been awarded.

To date, PAUSA has implemented the following actions:

•Developed a board of directors

•Identified a location for classes

•Developed a registration process both on paper and on-line

•Developed a volunteer registration form and orientation packet

•Secured a vocal, dance, and acting instructor, administrative assistant and event coordinator

•Secured professional assistance in non-profit development and grant writing

•Created a logo and website for the purposes of marketing, class registration, and donations

•Created a flyer to communicate class offerings to the community

•Created a database of potential donors

PAUSA is now in the process of implementing a fund-raising letter campaign supported by two influential community members.

When funding is available, liability insurance will be purchased from other funds, the rehearsal space will be secured, classes will be scheduled, and promotional out-reach activities to recruit participants into the program will begin. 

As funding permits, equipment and supplies will be purchased and performance dates and locations determined.

Go to voting page.


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