About Free Lunch Academy
What is Free Lunch Academy?
Free Lunch Academy (FLA) is a non-profit organization currently working in and throughout the greater Chicagoland area. We strive to improve the lives, livelihoods, and lifestyles of youth and young adults as they self actualize towards their divine purposes in life. FLA uses the creative, performing, and emerging arts as a means of achieving this goal. By infusing a unique blend of educational entertainment within our service offerings, FLA is able to successfully use drama to prevent drama and help heal trauma throughout the various opportunity communities we serve. FLA has been able to effectively influence reductions in community violence, prevent bullying related behavior, and improve conflict resolution skills among program participants. Exercises themed around effective communication, perspective sharing, and purpose driven decision making are at the core of our ever expanding portfolio of services. We offer live (and now virtual) performances, interactive workshops, job readiness training, entrepreneurial services, community events, and engaging experiential experiences for all to enjoy, learn, and grow from, together.
Our primary focus is working with learners of all ages to further the message of love, peace, tolerance and inclusion. Workshops provide access to acting basics, script writing, story telling, digital media skills and more, all with the intent of developing character leadership among participants, also known as FLA Ambassadors. FLA Ambassadors are exposed to character leadership development themed exercises that are true to their unique perspectives, experiences, and voices. Our goal is to cultivate collaborative learning environments that are safe, positive, productive and inclusive for all that are interested.
Since 2014, Free Lunch Academy has successfully completed over 350 live performances, classroom-based workshops, and annual community events, which has resulted in positively impacting the lives of over 50,000 Chicagoland area residents. These numbers are expected to increase exponentially with our recent transition to now delivering our social emotional artistic learning content in a virtual capacity going forward. Our programs aim to educate, enrich, empower, and employ youth and young adults who have a true value for creativity. Our Creative Youth Employment Program provides Ambassadors with paid internships, educational training, mentoring opportunities, and career pathways, as well as opportunities for business ownership, growth and capacity building, all within the arts, culture, and entertainment sector. Ambassadors not only learn job skills, but also job creation skills, as they grow towards their goals in life by enhancing their tools, skills, and networks within the creative economy. Ultimately, it is the intent of Free Lunch Academy and our network of partners to provide a school of thought, serving food for thought, that is firmly rooted in educational entertainment, economic empowerment, and environmental enrichment, also known as; F.R.E.E.
Mission and Values
Free Lunch Academy is an artistic outreach program that uses drama to prevent drama and help heal trauma throughout our communities resulting in improved outcomes inside classrooms, within careers and throughout communities. Since 2014 Free Lunch Academy has successfully merged the worlds of arts, culture and educational entertainment to help overcome the adverse childhood experiences endured by the vast majority of today’s youth and young adult populations. This approach is known as our ACES Over ACES model. We believe that a dedicated focus to cultivating character in program participants early and often throughout their developmental years produces better people who make better decisions as students, workers, business owners and citizens, which ultimately results in a better world for us all.
About Our Logo
Our logo is a visual representation of our mission and is described by four areas: social, emotional, artistic, and learning.