avery r. young honored as a 2022 Leader of a New Chicago

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Left: Teaching Artist avery r. young engages young people in a Theater Residency program at St. Viator Elementary School, 2019; Center: avery r. young; Right: avery r. young accepts the Artist Excellence Award at the Urban Gateways Art for All Gala, 2017.

CHICAGO, IL (June 8, 2022) – The Field Foundation has announced the recipients of The Leaders for a New Chicago award that recognizes accomplishments in the fields of Justice, Arts, or Media & Storytelling and promotes and advances a range of leaders whose influence will inform decision making across the city of Chicago. Each leader will receive a $25,000 cash award in recognition of past accomplishments, and their affiliated non-profit organizations will each receive an additional $25,000 general operating grant.

One of the 10 leaders chosen for the award is avery r. young*, an award-winning artist, composer, producer, and Teaching Artist with Urban Gateways. With more than two decades of experience in the Teaching Artist field, avery has lead programs in- and out- of schools, community-based organizations and other learning environments during his 12+ year tenure with Urban Gateways. avery has significantly contributed to the mission of Urban Gateways helping youth overcome social and economic barriers to access Chicago’s artistic and cultural vitality.

avery has co-conspired with Urban Gateways to shape meaningful experiences for students of all ages. He has designed and lead professional development for artists and educators and workshops for young people, their families and other supportive adults in their lives.

“I think the art of the teaching artist is listening and engagement. I think that’s all we do, we engage people in ways they are not normally engaged…I think a lot of times, people in this world are not validated. I learned how valued I was through my words. And I see the students that I work with, the moment they gain a sense of value within themselves, when they read a poem out loud,” said avery as he reflects on his work as a Teaching Artist.

Through his compelling work with the Floating Museum (a Chicago-based art collective that explores relationships between art, community, architecture, and public institutions), avery has recently worked with the team at Urban Gateways’ youth media arts center – Street Level – to engage youth participants in documenting performing arts interventions by celebrated musicians and performers around Chicago on the El train. The project, Soul El, marked the first of future collaborations between avery and Street Level. View a video of avery discussing Soul El, here >>

For more information contact Abigail Prescott, Chief Communications Officer, at 312.445.2755 or [email protected]


Urban Gateways engages young people in arts experiences to inspire creativity and impact social change. Hear from avery (and other Teaching Artists) about Urban Gateways Artist-in-Residence programs here >>

The Field Foundation seeks to invest in organizations working to address systemic issues in divested communities. To see a full list of the Leaders for a New Chicago award recipients, please visit the Field Foundation’s website here >>

*After reading bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress, avery made an intentional style choice to mark his name in all lowercase letters in honor of her.