From the Director
2011 marked an exciting year of change for Street-Level.
After several years of planning and much anticipation, we laid the foundation for our future growth with
the opening of our new multimedia center this past fall. Street-Level made bold goals that entailed some
risks when we set out to develop this new site amidst uncertain economic times. However, like all our
efforts, we rose up and met the challenge because of our steadfast commitment to give underserved youth
the best educational media arts experience to support their growth.
Within our new walls, Street-Level has built a digital playground where young people can discover their
passions and explore new ways of expressing themselves. We’ve equipped our studio and classroom
training labs with tools that help youth stretch their imaginations and learn to be nimble in our everchanging media and technology landscape. We’ve designed a culturally-vibrant and inviting space for
young people from across the city to gather regularly, so they can share and celebrate their artistic talents
with one another.
Through our media arts programs, we’ve also established a supportive environment for youth to cultivate
their unique voice, learn to communicate with confidence, and responsibly engage with the world
around them. In collaboration with their peers and adult mentors, young people process the issues they
face, formulate questions to investigate, and together, nurture intergenerational visions of better futures
through the media they create.
Street-Level is proud of the media arts opportunities we have developed for our youth. My heartfelt thanks go
to all our staff, Board, partners, and supporters whose contributions make this important work possible.
Street-Level Youth Media • 2011 Annual Report [ 3 ]
Street-Level Youth Media educates Chicago’s urban youth in media arts and emerging
technology for use in self-expression, communication, and social change.
Street-Level’s programs build critical thinking skills for young people who have been
historically neglected by public policy makers and mass media.
Using video, audio, graphic design, digital photography, and the Internet, Street-Level
youth address community issues, access advanced technology, and gain inclusion in
our information-based society.
STREET-LEVEL YOUTH MEDIA sprang from a simple idea: What if young people had
video cameras to document the world as they saw it? What stories would they tell?
What could they teach us?
As it turned out: everything. In the summer of 1992, as part of Sculpture Chicago’s
“Culture in Action” initiative, west side Chicago youth made forty videos on topics
ranging from gangs and families to the gradual gentrification of their neighborhood.
The youth collaborated with an artist collective and threw a giant block party where
their videos were installed on monitors up and down the street. The block party
attracted over one thousand visitors — and national attention.
The success of this and subsequent community-based public art efforts inspired
Street-Level to officially incorporate as a nonprofit organization, dedicated to youth
empowerment through media.
On the eve of the twentieth anniversary of that first project, Street-Level now annually
engages nearly 1,000 young people from all over Chicago in media arts production.
Programs have grown to include audio and music production, stop-motion animation,
multimedia journalism, digital photography, and graphic design. Training workshops take
place year-round at our new West Town community multimedia center. Street-Level
also partners with Chicago Public Schools and other youth providers to bring our media
expertise into the classroom and to out-of-school settings.
Under the guidance of our professional media instructors, youth gain not just
technical media skills, but also essential critical thinking and digital literacy skills for
today’s information-driven world. At Street-Level, youth find a safe and supportive
environment to speak out on what matters most to them and their communities.
In all programs, Street-Level creates opportunities for youth to access media arts
and digital technology not readily available in their schools or homes. More than 95%
of Street-Level participants are youth of color and about 85% hail from low-income
families. All of our programs are offered free of charge, eliminating financial barriers to
media arts participation.
Street-Level Youth Media • 2011 Annual Report [ 5 ]
1995: Street-Level incorporates as a 501(c)3 nonprofit
1996: Youth document Democratic National Convention in Chicago
1997: Neutral Ground on Chicago Ave. opens as Street-Level’s primary program site
1998: Street-Level receives the first Coming Up Taller Award from President Clinton’s
Committee on the Arts & Humanities
1999: Street-Level expands special projects and earned income initiatives to
grow our financial capacity
2000: Street-Level launches full-tuition scholarship program in partnership with
Columbia College Chicago
2001: “Peace Sign” project is featured on billboards across Chicago
2002: “Out of the Loop” video featured at Chicago History Museum
2003: Street-Level receives the first Microsoft Unlimited Potential Award
2004: Street-Level retrospective “Urban Expressions” opens at the Field Museum of Chicago
2005: Street-Level’s 10th anniversary
2006: Youth travel to New Orleans to document and participate in Katrina rebuilding efforts
2007: Street-Level upgrades technology and software, and builds out first recording studio
2008: Student exhibition “My Community Matters” opens at Chicago Children’s Museum;
Neutral Ground destroyed in a fire
2009: Media programs resume in Street-Level’s transitional space on Augusta Blvd. in
2010: Street-Level launches new logo and visual identity project
2011: Street-Level opens new community multimedia arts center and production studio in
West Town, and reveals a fresh, rebranded website
Street-Level Youth Media • 2011 Annual Report [ 7 ]
our new home
IN FALL 2011, Street-Level opened the doors to our new
multimedia center at 1637 North Ashland Avenue. The
facility features two Mac computer labs, a youth media
gallery, and a professional-level multimedia production
studio with two control rooms and a multipurpose sound
stage — all designed exclusively for young people.
Street-Level celebrated the new center with a grand
opening benefit on September 29. The gala offered friends
and supporters a unique behind-the-scenes preview of the
center’s construction before youth media workshops got
underway on October 17.
Since opening day, Street-Level has welcomed youth,
educators, and community members for after-school
workshops, school field trips, film screenings, performances,
and our youth-led Free 4 All open mic night.
Square feet in our
for youth to use
Of 50 Chicago
by our youth
Street-Level Youth Media • 2011 Annual Report [ 9 ]
OVER THE COURSE OF 2011, over 500 youth ages 8
Organizations and the Local Youth Leadership
to 22 took part in workshops, field trips, and special
Council to launch Free 4 All, a youth-run monthly
events at Street-Level.
open mic night that also spotlights local and
Youth from twenty-seven different schools
enrolled in after-school and summer media arts
In all our program activities, Street-Level
workshops at Street-Level. Participants of all skill
fosters youth leadership and 21st-century skill
levels learned to operate media equipment such
development. Our program alumni serve as
as video cameras, hand-held recorders, boom
teaching assistants, studio engineers, and event
microphones, digital cameras, and midi keyboards.
emcees, and contribute to our on-going program
They learned scriptwriting, interviewing, beat-
making, composition, and graphics, and brought
it all together by editing with industry-standard
software. Through the lens of media, youth
investigated issues like civic engagement, crosscultural differences, community representation,
and even the federal budget.
From January to September at our Augusta
Blvd. location, youth participated in workshops
“It was challenging to be able to
make a video that would be able
to catch the attention of young
people, but also be informational
to people who are older and who
we want to listen and understand
how WE want this money to be
spent for our future.”
such as Musicology (music), Digital Exposures
(photography), Digital Fusion (multimedia arts),
— Arani Shearrill, age 12
“If I Had a Trillion Dollars” workshop participant
the Summer Arts Apprenticeship Program, and our
summer media arts bootcamps.
From October to December at our new Ashland
Avenue center, youth enrolled in Homegrown
(video), If I Had a Trillion Dollars (video), The Hero
(music), and Digital Exposures (photography).
With our expanded space, the scope of our
activities also grew. We launched a field trip
program that has brought even more Chicago
public school students to Street-Level to participate
in intensive audio and video workshops using
professional-grade media equipment. In November,
we partnered with the Alliance of Local Service
Street-Level Youth Media • 2011 Annual Report [ 11 ]
summer arts apprenticeship program
FOR THE NINTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR, Street-
“I felt like I connected with many students in the
Level’s Summer Arts Apprenticeship Program (SAAP)
program, not just my mentees,” reflected mentor
provided fifteen advanced teen artists with the
Allison Yasukawa. “I saw all of them achieve great
opportunity to take their media skills to the next
things at different points in the program... They
level. Apprentices developed a deeper engagement
really worked collaboratively to figure out how to
with media production, arts criticism, and Chicago’s
use materials and tell stories in truly creative ways.”
rich arts and cultural scene. They also learned about
teamwork, organization, and self-management.
Working around this year’s theme of “Chance,
SAAP’s final group exhibition, Brave Youth Voices,
was presented at Yollocalli Arts Reach in Pilsen
from August to September.
Choice, and Change,” the apprentices created
original multimedia artwork in collaboration with
adult artist mentors, seasoned professionals who,
in turn, found they learned a lot from the teens.
Mentor Frank Rinaldi believes his SAAP experience
strengthened him as an artist. “I was forced to make
sure my grasp on the fundamentals of technique and
theory were absolutely solid,” he explained. “I would
love to teach, mentor and volunteer in the future.”
Friends, families, and community members celebrate the
summer apprentices’ accomplishments at the Brave Youth
Voices opening reception at Yollocalli.
Youth Spotlight: Darion Williams-Bangs
SWING BY STREET-LEVEL just about any afternoon and you’re likely to find Clemente High School senior
Darion Williams-Bangs in the studio working the mixing board or writing music.
A 2011 participant in the Summer Arts Apprenticeship Program (SAAP), Darion has grown along with StreetLevel’s audio programs in the last year and a half, as both moved from the limited production space at StreetLevel’s previous location to the current state-of-the-art recording studio.
Darion’s experience of recording his first beat in Street-Level’s afterschool program at Clemente hooked him
on the process. “It was kind of exciting because you get an idea of how you want this to sound, how you want
everyone else to react from it. I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is so awesome.’”
Building on that success, Darion was selected for SAAP, an intensive eight-week experience that allowed him to develop his skills
even more. His final project was a three-part hip-hop production titled “Back to Reality” that documented a young man’s journey
through life’s challenges.
While learning different beat-making programs and how to run the mixing board have occupied a lot of Darion’s time, it is his
growth as an artist that he identifies as the program’s biggest impact. Before Street-Level, he says, “I would just write music just to
do it, but now I actually start to think about, what am I writing? What message am I trying to display?”
A young man who considers himself a positive artist, Darion has big goals for his future in music. “The music that I make in my
head, I hear it as a number one hit. That’s how I view everything that I do and that’s the way I want everyone else to view it, as
something special, something you could vibe to.”
Street-Level Youth Media • 2011 Annual Report [ 13 ]
Clemente High School
music production • after school
video production • after school
Michele Clark High School
music production • after school
LOWER WEST SIDE
multimedia journalism • after school
multimedia • arts integration
multimedia • after school
Juarez High School
video production • after school
Vaughn High School
audio/video production • in-school elective
multimedia • arts integration
Street-Level has teamed with Vaughn for more than three years, during which
time students have written and produced original media that share positive
messages and reduce sterotypes.
The work is part of Vaughn’s senior seminar, in which students use the training
they receive from Street-Level to develop life skills and engage in advocacy on
behalf of their peers.
In 2011, Vaughn students collaborated to produce create songs and videos
that addressed cyberbullying, disability pride, and the importance of respecting
young women. The partnership was strengthened and extended through field
trips to Street-Level’s multimedia center.
“With the help of the experts from Street-Level,” said teacher Kelly Tepastte,
“we are able to give students creative license in their work and help them create
incredible music and video. I am very proud of my students and extremely
thankful for the opportunity to work with Street-Level Youth Media.”
music production • arts integration
STREET-LEVEL BELIEVES that innovative media arts
integration — where we collaborate with classroom
education and access to cultural production and
teachers on media projects that enhance student
digital technology builds the foundation for future
achievement in core subjects like math and
success. To widen our program reach, Street-Level
science — and in-school electives and after-school
partners with Chicago Public Schools to bring our
workshops that emphasize media arts education
media arts education programming into the school
and personal youth development.
setting. In 2011, we worked with ten Chicago public
elementary and high schools, serving nearly 450
students all across the city.
Our school-based programs take the form of arts
Among our in-school projects, students used
multimedia tools to explore science and biological
viruses, raise awareness about school bullying, and
report on food deserts and healthy nutrition.
“In 1871 a fire burned down the town,
and it all started with Mrs.O’Leary’s cow.
Bow bow, fire shot all around. Then the
whole town burned down.
People’s lives were changing, and after
that Chicago was never the same.”
— Lyrics to “Greatest City of All”
Ms. Banks’ 5th grade class, Gillespie Elementary
Final media arts projects
produced by youth
Youth media showcases,
screenings, & events
Street-Level Youth Media • 2011 Annual Report [ 15 ]
PUBLIC INCOME & REVENUE
Cash and cash equivalents.....................$679,634
Prepaid expenses............................... ...........$7,628
(net of accumulated depreciation of $275,164)
In-kind contributions........................ ........ $49,063
Program services............................... ......$468,018
Administration.................................... ........ $90,706
Total Net Assets......................................$1,027,816
Total Liabilities Net Assets.............$1,234,178
“Before I was shy, and I never really showed
anyone my talent. Now, ever since StreetLevel and all the classes I’ve been in, they
showed me, don’t be afraid, be brave and just
do what you love and follow your dreams.”
— Vanessa Roldan, age 12
musician video producer
[ 16 ] www.street-level.org
who We Are
BOARD STAFF FROM JAN 1 TO DEC 31, 2011
board of directors
Eddie Clopton, Jr.
Street-Level staf f
Director of Education
Community Outreach Coordinator
Administrative Marketing Coordinator
Street-Level Youth Media • 2011 Annual Report [ 15 ]
FOUNDATION, CORPORATE, GOVERNMENT,
The Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago Shakespeare Theater
for our many
Chicago White Sox
After School Matters
Challenge Grant for Journalism
Core Fitness Chicago
Chicago Community Trust
Chicago Public Schools
Illinois Department of Commerce Economic Opportunity
of this would
Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs Special Events
Chicago Department of Family Support Services
Lloyd A. Fry Foundation
Leo S. Guthman Fund
Illinois Arts Council
Prince Charitable Trusts
Gene Siskel Film Center
Gorilla Tango Theatre
Museum of Contemporary Art
Om on the Range Yoga Studio
@properties Friends Neighbors Fund
Ray’s Bucktown BB
Chicago Youth Voices Network
Day 1 Studios
JP Morgan Chase
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Midwest Game Developers’ Kickball Tournament
Up to $999
Chicago Tribune Foundation
Columbia College Chicago
Gap Giving Campaign
Global Giving Foundation
Kraft Foods Foundation
Pew Center for Arts Heritage
P.K. Johnson Associates
[ 18 ] www.street-level.org
Thanh Mai Nyugen
William Vicki Hood
Nancy Erwin Maher
Lyn Soo Hoo
Gerry Gwen Swanson
Andras Connie Vari
Up to $99
John Mary Ellen Capuzzo
Joseph Heather Emrich
Chad Jan Fellah
Iwei Doris Huang
May Lin Kessenich
Thomas Catherine LaRocca
Ardy Curt Thorstenson
Elizabeth Van Fleet
Mary Beth Witte
Helen Steven Woghin
Street-Level Youth Media • 2011 Annual Report [ 19 ]
what your donation can fund
Set of headphones for video and audio production projects
Memory cards to capture audio interviews, photographs, documentary video
$100 Refreshments for a media showcase, where youth share their work with
friends, family, community members
$500 Hand-held recorders for ten students in an audio production class
$750 Youth stipend for ten-week advanced studio internship
$1000 Digital photography kit, including dSLR camera, lens, batteries, and case
$5000 One year of professional printing of youth work, postcards, program brochures
Help us make a difference for 1,000 Chicago youth each year.
Visit street-level.org/donate to give today.
STREET-LEVEL YOUTH MEDIA
1637 N. Ashland Ave. | Chicago, IL 60622
T 773.862.5331 | F 773.969.5376 | firstname.lastname@example.org