Urban Gateways has been providing arts programming for young people in Chicago for going on six decades.
In 1961, Jessie Woods, Charles Burns, Dr. Raymond Jerrems, Connie Williams, and Helen Kolar founded Urban Gateways to address the lack of artistic exposure in Chicago-area schools, especially those in the inner-city.
The five original founders believed in arts education as a mechanism for social change, and as a result, focused their efforts on providing neighborhood schools with free tickets to attend musical recitals, orchestra concerts, operas, and theater productions. In 1962, just one year after its founding, Urban Gateways received its first major donation for $20,000 in the form of concert tickets for neighborhood children and schools. And we’ve just kept on growing.
Now, nearly 60 years later, we provide more than 80,000 Chicago-area youth annually with arts experiences in the literary, media, performing, and visual arts disciplines. See some of our historical highlights below.