Northlight utilizes theatre in its broadest capacity to act as a conduit between us and our community. Our programs fulfill self-identified needs within that community using applicable theatre skills and resources. These dynamic engagement initiatives align with Northlight’s mission of reflecting our community to the world, and the world to our community.
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 Spring 2020, Northlight’s storytelling group at the YWCA Evanston/Northshore launched “The Pen Pal Gals,” a collaborative storytelling experience through the mail! Story Packets were mailed with writing materials, prompts, and details on how to join us for a virtual storytelling session. For those who couldn’t join virtually, participants could also opt to mail their written stories back to share with the group.
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. Northlight and Family Focus are collaborating on a special book release event and possible video with recited excerpts.
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.
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.