Skip to content
%1$s Profile Image

Free Write Arts & Literacy Nfp

Free Write Arts & Literacy engages incarcerated and court-involved youth in the performing, visual, and literary arts so that they become the narrators of their own stories and the authors of their futures. Tax ID 81-1032458


Central to this mission is changing public opinion, which undervalues the talents and aptitudes of criminalized young people and divests from their communities. Free Write addresses this challenge by co-designing creative spaces with our incarcerated and criminalized students that amplify their artistic contributions and their voices, and increase their chances of re-engagement with education, employment, and reduces recidivism.


Free Write's arts and literacy programs in the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center and in the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice Illinois Youth Center (IYC) – Chicago engage approximately 250 incarcerated young adults annually.  These program offerings include: 

One-on-One tutoring sessions centered on each student’s competencies and literacy goals. Students participate in individualized reading instruction, re-engaging with the written word. 

Weekly arts workshops in digital audio production, creative writing, and visual arts/mixed media give incarcerated students the opportunity to publish and publicly present their artwork in venues throughout Chicago and around the country.

Multimedia Library and Digital Learning Lab, the only space of its kind in the Detention Center, contains a range of publications and offers industry-standard design, art, word processing, and music production software and hardware.

Free Write’s Chicago-wide, community-based arts and literacy programs engage more than 2,000 young adults annually, and include:

Stomping Grounds, a monthly open-stage event for young emerging performers of color to develop skills and connect with a like-minded creative community.

Sound & Vision, a social enterprise offering full-service sound reinforcement and event production, staffed by our former Detention Center students. Sound and Vision builds upon the education our students received in our Detention Center classroom, and was designed in response to their post-incarceration needs for meaningful, sustainable employment in creative fields.