CircEsteem Inc.

Rating: 5 stars   17 reviews

Issues: Arts & Culture, Children & Youth

Location: 4730 N Sheridan Rd Chicago IL 60640 USA

Mission: CircEsteem unites youth from diverse racial, cultural, ethnic and economic backgrounds and builds self-esteem through the practice and performance of circus arts.
Results: With a 100% graduation rate from high school CircEsteem participants have received over $500,000 in college scholarships. CircEsteem provides dollar for dollar matching funds for participants saving money for college. To date CircEsteem youth have saved over $15,000 for their educational futures. CircEsteem has doubled their savings in addition to providing college scholarships.
Target demographics: youth gain self-esteem through the practice of circus arts
Direct beneficiaries per year: 1000
Geographic areas served: Chicago
Programs: 1. HomeWork & Circus Work is our after school tutoring program that works with youth 3 days a week combining homework help with circus activities. 2. Saturday circus classes happen for youth Saturday mornings from 8 AM to 1 PM throughout the school year. Come take Silks, Trapeze, Lyra, Tight-rope Walking, Trampoline, Tumbling, Chinese Pole and much more! 3. CircEsteem Summer Camp is a safe, fun, and supportive environment where campers can come and learn all the circus skills 7 weeks out of the summer. 4. We love to do outreach in schools. Invite us to your school where we can teach an after school program every week or a gym class workshop. OR you can bring your school to our location for a field trip! 5. Birthday Parties! Celebrate your birthday at CircEsteem! 6. Invite us to your event where we can host workshops for your guests.

2010 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

As the CPS school year was quickly coming to an end, I realized I had no care coverage for my 2 daughters (10 and 8). I looked to friends for baby sitter referrals. One friend, an instructor at the camp suggested I look into CircEsteem. Even with my potential financial challenges, I called and spoke to a staff member who was MORE than willing to talk to me about my options. When I told the girls I was looking into Circus Camp, they both kinda of poopoo'd the idea. They had no choice, I put my foot down, they were going. I was able to work everything out and set up to get girls to camp for their first day. When I arrived at 3 for pick up they both complained (yes, complained) that I was there to pick them up, they didn't want to leave. I couldn't be happier with our experience at CircEsteem and HIGHLY recommend this camp for any kids. My girls love all of the staff and instructors and are having a fantastic experience. The staff is wonderful and more than willing to work with me and my situation. J.C.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I am blessed to be able to enhance the kids experience in performing by creating costumes for them. I don't know where I would find a more diverse, loving, talented, respectful, group of children anywhere. Working with them one on one I am able to see what shining lights they are, how committed to developing their skills and how committed they are to one another and the success of the program.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

This organization works...the children that stay in the program go on to college, many of them to prestigious Universities with full scholarships. They come from all ethnicities, economic backgrounds, religious beleifs and work well together.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Clone it and drop the clones into cities around the world.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Feeling the joy of the kids when they wear their new costumes. Seeing their interest in what it takes to design and make them. Interacting with kids and staff.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Committed, artsy, fun, overworked, knowledgable, absolutely working for the good of the kids.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Have state of the art equipment and hire more staff. Reach more children in more areas of the city. Spend more time doing what they do best...building esteem and team work in the kids, and less time running around after donors.

Ways to make it better...

We had more staff and volunteers.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

The usual...overworked, underpaid staff.

One thing I'd also say is that...

Did I say "I love these kids"? I do, they are wonderful.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-3-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

CircEsteem has offered ongoing programs as a part of an afterschool program I work with. Their staff has been terrifically skilled and kind with the young people they work with. Moreover I have hired the group to do 1-day workshops for our students and I have supported their circus programs as a volunteer and now board member. They transform the lives of young people through the work that they do. The young people they work with have matured into skilled and caring staff members who are terrific role models for younger children following in their foot steps and learning from them in their classes.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

my observations of childrens experiences learning the circus skills being taught. I have seen young people develop a sense of self confidence through the skills gained.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

their positive energy; love of children and young adults; belief in the power of community and the role it can play in transforming lives.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

extraordinarily kind, creative and hard working

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

reach out to so many more children and young adults and serve a broader community.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-2-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

I first heard about CircEsteem from an actress working in San Francisco. She had helped found the organization when she was living in Chicago. When she learned that I was moving with my mid-elementary and middle school children to Chicago, she told me to look them up. I did and enrolled my two children -- aged 9 and 11 in introductory circus arts classes. Once a week, we traveled from Evanston to Chicago to participate in classes with city kids and kids from Lake Forest, another northern suburb. It gave my kids a great opportunity to work with kids of other socioeconomic backgrounds and to learn circus arts at the same time. The director, Paul Miller, always made my children and all the children welcome and encouraged them in all their endeavors. He brought great energy, enthusiasm and interest to each and everyone in his presence -- adults and children alike. My daughter and I also participated in the after school tutoring program -- she as part of a community service project and I because I am a learning specialist. While my daughter and I were tutoring, vollunteers from the Lycee School, a french elementary and high school, in Chicago also were tutoring kids. I thought what an amazing way to gather people together for mutual benefit and learning.My husband has taken photographs for Circusteem on numerous occasions. When I go into a city school where I work, I see posters with his photographs, advertising upcoming performances. Since my kids have been involved with Circusteem, we have attended fundraisers and performances. I am always amazed at the incredible skills that the performers bring to their programs. Circusteeem is indeed a great asset to the greater Chicago community.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

having my children participate in circus arts classes and the after school tutoring program.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Ways to make it better...

The Saturday classes were not so early in the morning.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-10-01

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

7 people found this review helpful

When my son was an active, 7-year-old, he took a circus/clowning class after school. He was encouraged to attend the Saturday morning class at an inner-city youth center. Now at 17, he's comfortable on stage, can do circus arts, has a personality for his clown self, but most of all is very close with the circus team: teaches the newer kids, performs with the experienced kids. He is on a gig this morning and doing a different show tomorrow. His circus team has kids from different continents, different economic classes, different races, and different first-languages, yet none of this diversity is remarkable to him; instead they must focus on their next performance. I am an attorney turned tutor. I get to help circus kids with homework after school to balance their after school circus work. The determination and energy of these kids is a joy. Even the young ones can progress and master skills and it shows in their stage presence. And I am working on juggling rings.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

learning to juggle and spin plates. Watching young kids develop circus skills, self esteem, improve literacy, and obtain full scholarships to college. Watching my son start as a young child and now be supporting and leading younger kids.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

have a healthy endowment to support us through the lean times.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

spending time with the kids. I probably would never have met them outside circus.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

incredibly dedicated! A joy to be around that kind of energy. Most of the staff is unpaid.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

expand outreach, buy some new juggling balls, pay some of the volunteers, hire our own kids after college graduation, repair the van (or buy a new one), have an outdoor summer camp site, buy more unicycles, have an endowment for the lean times.

Ways to make it better...

I had started tutoring years ago.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

trying to raise enough funds to sustain us through the down economy.

One thing I'd also say is that...

without circus I don't know what our kids would do, what they would have to focus on, how they would direct all their energy, or what opportunities they would find to shine. I don't want to see that light go out for them.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-2-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

7 people found this review helpful

circesteem/chicago youth circus was the perfect place for our son to bring his quirky skills and quiet personality. it is a place where encouragement, responsibility and team spirit are consistently applied. where city, suburban and refugees kids come together and build trust, cooperation and lead to lasting friendships. their performances consistently impress.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the maturity of my son, and the joy he gets from his involvement.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Ways to make it better...

more parents knew about it and more kids were involved.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-2-01

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

CircEsteem helps kids build skills and confidence through the Circus Arts. I have met and worked the kids involved in CircEsteem and have seen the results of their dedication in their fantastic shows. Some of the kids have gone on to professional careers in the Circus Arts. My kids enjoyed themselves, learned some tricks and helped others through their on site tutoring program. On several occasions I have photographed the performers for their promotional posters and during their wonderful shows. This is a vital and important non-profit organization.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

seeing it provide unexpected opportunities for growth and new dimensions for the kids, the staff and the volunteers.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-2-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

7 people found this review helpful

This is a transformative program for city youth, bringing together a remarkable assortment of kids at all levels from the newbies to the vets. It has a strong educational/homework base with proven results (scholarships, academic achievements) and a physical fun and skills component that is linked to other youth circus groups around the US and Europe. Kids stay with this for years as they learn and grow, and who can blame them despite the demanding effort it takes! Great staff, great kids, great program!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Witnessing the degree to which it affects my own daughter's (15) school work, and her determination to maintain the GPA needed to stay in circus work. This has been going on for 5 years! She has some great friends she would not otherwise have met; me too.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Provide a new van for their performance excursions, and an additional FT or 2 PT staff to share the load.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The joy of watching kids do things they frankly never thought possible, and gain that extra measure of poise and confidence by mastering skills.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Dedicated, not all of the parents, but all determined to help Circesteem "make a difference" in a tough neighborhood and with some often challenged kids. Many of the staff are circus performers with major skills of their own; their dynamic is professional

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Reach hundreds of kids instead of just a hundred, and bring some lively and motivating spirit (and great physical stuff like trapeze and gym wheel) to more schools. The results in school performance are widely seen as the outcome, but it's just the start.

Ways to make it better...

As always, there are few resources for many needs, and the staff can often get toasted for want of back office and development help.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Some recent board changes have left some aspects of the organization deeply strengthened, but others less fully served. Some formal board development work is in order for the future.

One thing I'd also say is that...

This is one of those very Odd Recipes that comes out over time with a continuous quality "batch after batch," and the kids themselves become the new mentors of the next batch

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-2-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

10 people found this review helpful

As a teacher, I was able to experience first hand how circus positively changes the lives of children. The circus work provides a seemingly impossible task that with some hard work and training, the children are able to achieve. This then translates into other areas of their lives. Suddenly math and english don't seem so impossible. The confidence this program builds as well as discipline, dedication, and team building is priceless.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

seeing how this program has shaped and changed the lives of the kids in the program. They are all just amazing!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010-2-01

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

6 people found this review helpful

My son has been a student, performer, and camp counselor as part of the CircEsteem organization for 8 years, since he was 10 years old. I watched from the sidelines (and assisted as a volunteer) as he matured and gained so much from the opportunity to work with such a culturally diverse group of kids and adults. He traveled with the troupe to San Francisco and Germany, and performed all over the Chicago area. He learned to collaborate very comfortably and naturally with kids from a wide range of socioeconomic and immigrant backgrounds. He also learned to think on his feet, be organized, and be a leader in a group that was much less structured than the typical school and extracurricular experiences that kids have.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

extremely dedicated and fun to work with. My son and I met people that we never would have had the chance to know in our sheltered suburban life.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-8-01

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