Arts + Public Life Education Programs take an integrated, process-based approach to community engagement: local teens share authorship over projects informed by their expertise as South Side residents and that have direct impact on their communities. 96% of participants live on the South Side, with 63% in neighborhoods adjacent to the Arts Incubator. Core programs are:

  • Design Apprenticeship Program (DAP): A design-based mentorship encouraging teens and young adults to invest in the physical and social conditions of their community. Developing skills in carpentry, landscaping and design, DAP aids in positive neighborhood transformation and improvement.
  • ​Teen Arts Council (TAC): Student leaders who develop creative skills, leadership experience and opportunities for peers to engage with the arts. TAC works with university staff and local partners to develop projects at the intersection of arts administration and community engagement.
  • Community Actors Program (CAP): A performance program utilizing Theater of the Oppressed, participatory theater and performance as tools for community building and social change. CAP creates plays responding to a community issue.
  • Youth Backstage Production: Arts + Public Life’s new Backstage Production Program is designed to give South Side Chicago youth, ages 15-19, an introduction to the fundamentals of theater production and stage management. By the end of the program, students will have the skills and knowledge to plan and execute theater productions which include: stage management, lighting and sound design, and sound engineering. Additionally, youth participants gain college and career readiness skills while earning a stipend for their participation. This program is partially supported by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events (DCASE).

Teens often participate in multiple sessions of the same program, or multiple program areas across APL. Especially engaged teens have also been hired as interns, teaching assistants, and more.

Are you a teen who wants to...

...learn more about the arts?
...develop as a leader?
...positively impact your community? peers who share your interests?

Join us for teen programs in design/build and arts administration. Led by Arts + Public Life and offered in partnership with After School Matters, these in depth programs cultivate teens’ creativity, social development, and leadership, while inspiring them to make a positive difference in their community through the arts. Teens work alongside professionals to develop original work using real-world processes. All programs have a community stewardship and civic engagement focus. 

All programs take place at the Arts Incubator, 301 E. Garfield Bvd, and the Green Line Performing Arts Center, 329 E Garfield Blvd. Participants are eligible to earn a monetary award.

Stay tuned for the next open application cycle. Programs are offered on a rolling, seasonal basis. Please check back for the next opportunity to apply.

Questions? Please contact Julia Hinojosa, Assistant Director of Education Programs,


Check out our teen programs video to hear from past participants!