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2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Imagination Theater Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Education, Single Organization Support, Theater

Mission: Imagination Theater provides diverse audiences with original, dynamic, participatory theatrical programming that enhances well being and creates a more civil, safe society.

Target demographics: diverse audiences

Direct beneficiaries per year: approximately 35,000 people by presenting over 250 shows in Illinois and across the US.

Geographic areas served: the Chicago area

Programs: FOR K-8th GRADE STUDENTS: -Ease the Tease -Show Some Respect -No Secrets ...and many other programs that address a variety of social issues. FOR HS STUDENTS: -Aware Individuals: A Dialogue About Sex and HIV/AIDS FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS: -College 101: Beyond the Books (appropriate for new student orientation) ADULTS AND CORPORATIONS: -Custom Designed Workshops to meet your organization's needs FOR OLDER ADULTS: -Senior Spotlight: Chicago And All that Jazz (music and theater therapy show for the elderly)

Community Stories

49 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Imagination Theater brings an element of simplicity to otherwise very complicated issues our school children are facing in their young lives. Their approach to teaching the students with a sense of humor really keeps them engaged and helps them understand at their developmental level. I am a school social worker who works with a very diverse population, and I feel that all of the students I work with can understand and connect with the actors in some way. The presentations are very engaging and fun! We can't wait to have them back to our school!

Comments ( 1 )

Bethany at Imagination Theater Thanks so much! We look forward to working with you all again in the future.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This company was easy to work with and communication was excellent throughout the whole process. The performers were mindful of the age group they were trying to target and got every student engaged throughout the assembly. Students walked away with a great message of respect and were talking about the assembly the following days at school.

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Board Member

Rating: 5

Imagination Theater is a fantastic organization that is truly dedicated to improving the social discourse of key issues facing our society

Previous Stories
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Board Member

Rating: 5

Imagination Theatet is a great organization that educates children on important social issues

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Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Imagination Theater individualized scripts for our young men and women and approached the themes in their lives in a way that was transformative. We will invite them back every year!

Client Served

Rating: 5

The kids were completely engaged with Imagination Theater's performance. Very necessary for the students to see every year!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Thanks to the actors who came to MacNeal School yesterday and did an incredible performance with the students. They engaged everyone and their material was updated and edgy enough to be really meaningful. Excellent job and we will have you back!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I absolutely love Imagination Theater! I am a School Counselor and have hosted the program for four consecutive years and I intend to continue to bring it to my school. Students greatly benefit from the performance and the followup discussions.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Imagination Theater has served our K - 8 student population in the past with great success. It is a unique tool to raise awareness about a very serious and sensitive topic. We are excited to bring Imagination Theater to our school again next month. We certainly could not do it without the grant due to the fact that over 80% of our students are at or below poverty level. Thanks, Imagination Theater!

Advisor

Rating: 5

Amazing program for our students! Although this program is intended for student, The No Secret Show through Imagination theater also provides information pamphlets for parents on how to keep children safe.

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Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Imagination Theater brings complicated issues and presents them in a manner in which students understand the teaching point of the presentation. The interactions between Imagination Theater and the audience makes it an engaging presentation, child oriented , and age-appropriate. All the actors and narrators carried themselves professionally and we would highly recommend Imagination Theater to support a school's SEL program.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Imagination Theater provides engaging programming on sensitive topics. Our students always learn from the programs and report enjoying it! We look forward to having Imagination Theater work with our students each year.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Imagination Theater is a staple of the elementary and middle school experience. I personally have witnessed the profound effect of their performances on students for the past 20 years! As a counselor in a K-5 school, I invited them to meet with our 2nd-5th grade students last school year, 2013-2014. Their performance was so impactful that the safety room was busy until the end of the school day. To this day, students still remember what they learned about how to stay safe in vulnerable situations. Theater, in general, is one of the most powerful tools for transforming the lives of all children. Let's continue supporting this valuable resource.

Comments ( 1 )

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Bethany at Imagination Theater 11/01/2014

Thank you so much for the great review, and I'm thrilled that we have been able to work with you and your students for 20 years!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

It has been a privilege to have worked with Imagination Theater and Rape Victim Advocates at my school for the last three years. The program has always been well-organized and accommodating, and our staff and students look forward to the annual performance for our 5th-8th Grade students. The performances are engaging and educational, and the follow-up classroom visits with counselors from RVA encourage students to self-advocate and seek the support they may need. I cannot thank this program enough for bringing awareness to our staff and students, and for all the students that No Secrets has placed on the path toward healing.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I had the opportunity to attend my 2nd Imagination Theater performance this year, and I was again very impressed by the organization overall. The performance was at my jr. high school, so it was a unique experience to visit my former school and also observe the students' response to the performance.

The actors were able to keep the students engaged throughout the show, and they also created an environment where students were comfortable participating (which is not an easy task for this age group). I think it's great that the actors are able and willing to continuously adapt their programming to accommodate a wide variety of audiences and meet the needs of each particular school.

I'm proud to support the theater again this year as a member of the Board of Directors, and I look forward to many successful years to come!

Comments ( 1 )

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Bethany at Imagination Theater 10/25/2014

Thanks so much, Jennifer! We're so glad to have you as part of our board. And how cool that we got to perform at your Jr. High School!

Previous Stories

Board Member

Rating: 5

I was introduced to Imagination Theater through the Chicago Arts & Business Council. I was instantly drawn to the enthusiasm from the Artistic Director and other board members. I attended the public performance of "Take a Stand" on April 28, 2013 at the Adventure Stage in Chicago.
I was extremely impressed by the performance and the degree to which the students participated.

Overall, I believe the Theater has some wonderful shows that many children (or students of all ages) would enjoy and appreciate. The programs present sensitive issues in a fun and interactive format, and I think there will always be a strong demand for these programs.

Although I just recently joined the Board, this has already been a very rewarding experience. I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to such a great organization!

Comments ( 1 )

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Bethany at Imagination Theater 09/26/2013

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jennifer! We're so glad you joined us and look forward to growing with you as we move forward.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am an 8th grade teacher and our students have greatly benefited from this program. Thank you!!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I work as a Theatre Teaching Artist in Chicago. I know that some teachers feel that art programs in schools take valuable time away from teaching their core curriculum. I know expectations for test scores are high and that teachers are under a lot of pressure to meet specific guide lines. But I strongly believe that organizations like Imagination Theatre can work in tandem with teaching the core curriculum and can be a valuable aid to teachers. Imagination Theatre teaches students about creative ways to communicate their feelings and issues but it can also be a great tool for teaching core curriculum lessons.

Comments ( 1 )

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Bethany at Imagination Theater 10/25/2014

Thanks so much for your great review! And we agree with you completely at Imagination Theater. All of our school programs align with core curriculum, and I'm so happy to see you noticed that too!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a counselor with Chicago Public Schools. I work with students with special needs ages 16-21. Many of the students I work with have a difficult time with self-advocacy and reporting instances of teasing, bullying, abuse, etc. Imagination Theater did an EXCELLENT job of modifying the performance to meet the needs of our students. The interactive nature of the program helped my students to better understand the topics that were being presented. The Imagination Theater performers do a wonderful job dealing with sensitive subjects and the support they provide to students and staff after the performance is outstanding. I highly recommend this program for all grade levels.

Comments ( 1 )

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Bethany at Imagination Theater 10/25/2014

So glad to hear of our success at your school, and thanks for the great review!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been an arts education teaching artist in Chicago for the past ten years, and though I have not had the privilege of working for Imagination Theater, I regard them as one of the top theater companies that promote arts education. Kids in CPS benefit so much from having theater in the schools and Imagination Theater's No Secrets program is not only unique and top notch, but a much needed program for all schools.

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Bethany at Imagination Theater 10/25/2014

Thanks so much for your kind words! Hope we can work together soon.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Imagination Theater is a fantastic organization. We have had the privilege of presenting the "No Secrets" program to our students in K-4 the past two years. This program educates students in an entertaining, engaging, age-appropriate manner. All aspects of the program are professional and thorough - from the counselor training and teacher training, to the follow-up classroom visits. This program is invaluable to supporting schools in sexual abuse prevention. Imagination Theater deserves the utmost support!

Comments ( 1 )

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Bethany at Imagination Theater 10/25/2014

Thank you so much for the great review, and I'm so glad your students have benefited from No Secrets! It truly is an amazing program, if I do say so myself. :)

Client Served

Rating: 5

I'm a school social worker servicing students on the west side of Chicago. I am so grateful for the performance delivered by Imagination Theater, as well as the follow-up to address student and staff needs. They offered insightful and therapeutic information in a manner that was as entertaining as it was educational. I'm looking forward to working with Imagination Theater on future projects to address student needs. It was a pleasure.

Comments ( 1 )

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Bethany at Imagination Theater 10/25/2014

Thank you so much! We look forward to working with you again too!

Client Served

Rating: 5

October 17, 2014



To Whom It May Concern,

It is with great pleasure that I write this letter in support of Imagination Theater and their prevention education programming.

Communities In Schools of Chicago (CIS of Chicago) works closely with 125 Chicago public schools to connect social, emotional, health and enrichment services to students and their families. CIS of Chicago’s partner schools represent a diverse population of the city, including many immigrant and refugee families facing myriad cultural, social and financial challenges. In 2013-14, violence prevention was second in the areas of greatest need reported by CIS of Chicago partner schools. Providing prevention programs is critical for the health and safety of students.

For the past 14 years, CIS of Chicago has partnered with Imagination Theater to connect “No Secrets”, their sexual violence prevention education, to Chicago public schools. During the 2013-2014 school year, nearly 20 CIS of Chicago schools expressed a need for sexual assault prevention education for their students. Imagination Theater was able to serve over 5,400 students and is a key agency to provide this programming. Through their commitment to prevention education, Imagination Theater will make it possible for students to have the opportunity to learn about continue.

CIS of Chicago values Imagination Theater’s dedication to provide compassionate and quality sexual violence prevention education programming to students in Chicago. We look forward to a lasting partnership with Imagination Theater and hope they will be able to continue providing needed services to students in Chicago Public Schools.

Jane Mentzinger
Executive Director

Comments ( 1 )

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Bethany at Imagination Theater 10/25/2014

Thank you so much, Jane. Communities in Schools of Chicago have been invaluable partners to us over the years.

Donor

Rating: 5

I had the pleasure of attending a performance of Imagination Theater as part of a Snowflake program at a local junior high school. "Performance" isn't the right word- it was an engaging, interactive experience for the students, and challenged them to see the world from each other's perspective. I was floored by the energy, the commitment, the willingness to "go there" on a range of topics. What absolutely stunned me though, were the reactions from the students. They participated enthusiastically, volunteered to role play in awkward situations and were genuinely receptive to the program.

I saw first-hand how Imagination Theater contributes to building stronger students. They teach and reinforce behaviors that enable students to cope individually with negative peer pressure and to act together to influence peer behavior in a positive way.

Bravo, Imagination Theater!

Comments ( 1 )

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Bethany at Imagination Theater 10/25/2014

Thank you so much, John!

Board Member

Rating: 5

Imagination Theater is a wonderfully engaging and relevant organization. The topics that are addressed-- which include bullying, sexual abuse, and making good choices--are much needed for our youth today, and IT addresses the issues in a manner that is entertaining and participatory. If you work in a school, please check out this fantastic organization!

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Bethany at Imagination Theater 10/25/2014

Thank so much for the great review and for your great work on the board!

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Imagination Theater tackles difficult topics like sexual abuse and bullying in ways that not only entertain, but offer children the tools to cope and battle these problems.

It is a highly recommended service. Their contribution to community is valuable and long lasting.

Comments ( 1 )

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Bethany at Imagination Theater 10/25/2014

Thanks for volunteering with us this year, Scott!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked as an intern for Imagination for several months and had the most wonderful time! Steve, Derek, Jeremy and Bethany are incredibly friendly and organized. They believe in their work and their work is amazing! I had the opportunity to see several shows and the proof is in the kids. The students are consistently engaged, having fun and learning during the performances. I would recommended this organization as well as the internship to anyone!

Comments ( 1 )

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Bethany at Imagination Theater 09/26/2013

Julianne, we loved working with you too. Thanks so much for the great review and for all your help last spring!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I work as a school counselor for an inner city school. I started working with Imagination theater through a partnership we have with Communities in Schools. Imagination theater's purpose and objectives are so important for our students. They believe in and work to educate students on necessary real life skills that are life-saving. My students learn so much and I truly believe that this organization brings so much awareness to important issues. I would recommend them to any school. They are wonderful to work with.

Comments ( 1 )

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Bethany at Imagination Theater 09/24/2013

Thank you so much! We love working with your students.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I was introduced to Imagination Theater through the Arts & Business Council of Chicago's OnBOARD program. Imagination Theater interested me due to some of my past volunteer experiences including a community organization focused on quality of life for seniors and a sexual assault survivor advocacy group. I had the opportunity to attend the "No Secrets" performance earlier this year and it was outstanding.

I draw inspiration and motivation from Imagination Theater’s mission to provide diverse audiences with original, dynamic, participatory theatrical programming that enhances well-being and creates a more civil, safe society. Imagination Theater is a leading non profit arts education organization.

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Bethany at Imagination Theater 09/24/2013

We're so glad you joined us. Thanks for the great post!

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Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a kindergarten teacher in a low income school in Chicago. Imagination theater is a vital and much needed organization that provides top notch programming for our students. They are organized, thoughtful, reflective and absolutely meet the needs of children that have been sexually abused , bullied or just aren't sure. Often, these children are afraid to tell adults when an incident has occurred that "makes you feel funny In your stomach". I am so impressed with the way they show an auditorium of children a fun, light hearted play, yet also show some heavier themes that students can identify with and the fact they provide a place for students to talk to a professional, if needed, and provide sessions in the classroom after the show that provide role-playing and extension activities proves their understanding of children and what is appropriate for their age.
I have taught for nine years in inner city schools, hold a Masters in Education and have my National Board Certification in Primary Education and can 100% endorse this organization. This program needs to be provided in many, many schools. Especially low income schools (like mine) that do not have funds for this superior type of programming. Thank you, Imagination Theater. You are one of the best non-profits for children. Your programming has not only given students at my school tools and strategies to talk about a "taboo" topic, you have provided me with resources and words to work with children.

Comments ( 1 )

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Bethany at Imagination Theater 09/24/2013

What a thoughtful, detailed post. Thank you!

Donor

Rating: 5

Imagination Theater is doing a vital mission by going into schools and educating young students on essential skills, such as bullying prevention, making good choices, protecting themselves from sexual abuse, and developing healthy living skills. Their interactive approach draws students in and makes them a part of the learning experience. Their dedicated staff show a passion for the work they are doing.

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Bethany at Imagination Theater 09/24/2013

Thank you so much for supporting us, Pam!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Imagination Theater came to my school and provided training for myself and staff. A great deal of knowledge and information was provided. Teachers found it to be very effective. We then scheduled the play for our students who also appeared to have enjoyed and benefited from the play.

Comments ( 1 )

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Bethany at Imagination Theater 09/24/2013

Thanks for the positive review! Glad both your teachers and students enjoyed and learned from our visits.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Engaging, age appropriate, relevant presentation that empowers students to say no to unwanted touches and to report incidents of unsafe touch. Teachers felt more comfortable having discussions with students about abuse and preventing abuse after the presentations.

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Bethany at Imagination Theater 09/24/2013

That's great to hear. Thanks!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Imagination Theater came in conjunction with Rape Victim Advocates to educate our whole school population (K-8) on the prevention of sexual abuse. The presentation was engaging for the students and they liked the live theater aspect. In addition, the follow up provided by Rape Victim Advocates was useful as it enabled the children to speak out in regards to their specific traumatic situations (and should there be need, provide school counselors/school social workers with the opportunity to speak to a student individually who might not have reported the incident had they not seen the presentation).

Comments ( 1 )

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Bethany at Imagination Theater 09/24/2013

Thanks for the great review! We'll be sure to share your kind words with RVA.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

During the spring of 2013, I was asked to volunteer for the Imagination Theater's Spring Fundraiser. The event was well-managed and organized and I was responsible for working the guest services desk throughout the evening.

It was exciting to note that those in attendance were enthusiastic about Imagination Theater's work and they all seemed to enjoy the presentation highlighting the achievements of Imagination Theater and their work with Rape Victim Advocates in the children's sexual abuse program.

Client Served

Rating: 5

It is my pleasure to write this in regards to Imagination Theater’s performance at my school, Southside Occupational High School. Southside is a 100% special education high school which serves students 16-21 years of age. Due to our students’ cognitive disabilities we are always looking for organizations that provide age appropriate material that is tailored to our students’ ability levels. Imagination Theater exemplifies an organization that is flexible and willing to modify the content of their performance to best serve the audience.

From our initial meeting with Ellen Cribbs, to the day of the performance, every interaction with Imagination Theater was professional, friendly, and informative. Imagination Theater worked closely with our curriculum coordinator and counseling department to tailor the performance for our students. Through this collaboration the performance included the appropriate accommodations and modifications that our students require.

The performance was a hit with students and staff. Students were engaged during the performance; volunteering, clapping, laughing, gasping, and sharing. The support on the day of the performance was excellent. The materials provided by Imagination Theater for parents and staff will allow Southside to continue the conversation in the weeks and months to come. We are grateful to have had such an excellent professional organization come to our school and educate our students. We look forward to continuing this relationship!

Samantha19

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering at the Imagination Theater Company has been an amazing experience. The work that this organization does to further education in the arts about social issues is outstanding. It is crucial for students to learn about what it means to communicate, be healthy as well as being able to learn about issues in a creative and safe manner. Imagination Theater provides students across the nation with the ability to learn about diversity, and what it means to be a part of a community in a civil manner. One of the best aspects of Imagination Theater is that their programming is offered to students of all ages from Kindergarten through college, incorporating more complex issues into their performances as years progress. I am personally very appreciative that Imagination Theater works in alliance with Rape Victim Advocates for their "No Secrets" programming offered to Junior High School students. The curriculum that is addressed in that performance are crucial for students to know as they become more comfortable with themselves, their environment and their bodies. Being a part of the Imagination Team this year will impact my life and decision making in the future as well as inspire me in all aspects of my life. So, thank you Imagination Theater for all of your hard work furthering education in Chicago and across the Nation.