Northlight Theatre believes art is essential and should be part of every community. Guided by that vision, we partner every year with local social service and community organizations to advance their missions using the performing arts. We explore our partners’ self-identified needs and use applicable theatre practices to fulfill those needs. Our goal is to foster critical social and emotional skills through engaging performance-based educational programs as well as expanding access to live theatre through our Arts for Everyone free ticket program.

Evanston Scholars is a non-profit organization that improves college access and success for a diverse group of ambitious Evanston students who are traditionally first-generation college entrants, low-income students, and students of color. Northlight’s work with Evanston Scholars centers on helping students express their identity to better inform their college decisions.

Family Focus promotes the well-being of children by supporting and strengthening families. Northlight works with the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Group, helping these caregivers gain the skills and confidence to share their stories with an audience. Typically, a Northlight teaching artist leads these grandparents in a writing and performance workshop about their experience in life and as grandparents. Each piece is then performed for an invited audience. Writing workshops will culminate in the creation of an intergenerational book featuring writing by the Grandparents Group.

For more than 50 years, the Levy Senior Center has been providing outstanding programs and support for thousands of older adults in the community. The Center’s services and programs help Evanston-area older adults remain active, independent and connected.

Northlight’s work with the Levy Center includes Highlights, a writing workshop program via Zoom. Each week participants are given story prompts provided by Northlight teaching artists, designed to offer entryways into personal narrative or to explore specific types of literary genre. Folks then write down their stories with pens and notepads generously provided by the Levy Center. Then the seniors are invited to share their stories through a Zoom conference and discuss their experience. At the end of the program, these stories are collected, printed, and distributed to each person so that they can read the stories by the entire group.

The McGaw YMCA residence for men is situated in the heart of Evanston. They offer convenience, security and comfort at a price residents can afford. At the YMCA, residents can find a sense of community, whether in the welcoming Chinnock Lounge, working out with a friend in their state-of-the-art athletic facility, or in their professional staff. Northlight works with the YMCA to offer writing and storytelling workshops. Over multiple sessions, participants work on many different writing prompts and at the end of the final session will have the opportunity to submit one piece of writing to be printed and displayed at the YMCA.

Youth & Opportunity United is a youth development agency that provides services and leadership to meet the emerging needs of young people and their families. In the past, Northlight has engaged Y.O.U’s youth in a long-term afterschool Speak Up! Residency — our signature theatre for social change program. In order to meet the previous year’s needs of a more flexible summer schedule, Northlight teaching artists led the students in a series of Improv Masterclasses. These classes were designed to give students a fun and active learning experience. Our programs were offered in tandem with other weekly virtual drop-ins provided by Y.O.U. to support learners that lost their traditional programming.

The Youth Job Center, YJC, provides job-readiness training and support for young people. Northlight’s program focuses on conflict resolution to prepare young people for challenges in the workplace. Since March, we’ve moved our Work Readiness programming to a virtual space to provide weekly Work Readiness E-Trainings around the subject of Building Positive Workplace Relationships. With a focus on empathy and confidence building, these workshops provide youth with the language and tools they need to succeed in the workplace.

The Young Women’s Christian Association works to eliminate racism and empower women. Northlight teaching artists work with women and children living in the domestic violence residences, fostering community through writing and trust-building activities.

In 2021, Northlight introduced costume design workshops for the YWCA residents with the goal of exploring how fashion and wardrobe can be a powerful form of self-expression. In addition, we also offered writing and storytelling workshops as a means to express and manage their emotions in an open and safe environment.