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Awakenings Project

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Alliances & Advocacy, Arts & Culture, Health, Mental Health, Visual Arts

Mission: The group's mission is to assist persons with mental health issues in developing their craft and finding an outlet for their creative abilities through art in all forms. The Awakenings Project also works in another direction: to seek to raise public acceptance and awareness of the creative talents of people living with psychiatric disorders who work in the fields of fine art, music, literature and drama. As writers and artists in recovery, for over a decade, we at Awakenings have basked in this activity, and feel sure the public will continue to better surmise the creative capacity and endowment of persons living with mental health issues. The Awakenings Project has succeeded. Awakenings has been a grass-roots initiative. It shows that mental health consumers can become producers of extraordinary art exhibits, can publish an internationally acclaimed literary arts journal, can support music and theatrical events. Our work has not gone unnoticed. In 2006 we were winners of the "Outstanding Contribution to Recovery by a Non-Profit Organization" award by the Irwin Foundation at Celebration Recovery.

Results: We've been in existence since 1996, but only became a 501(c)3 in January 2004. All of us live with some diagnosis of a mental illness and we love to create art. We've produced literary arts journals for over 10 years, produced many, many gallery shows, where we have musicians at our opening receptions, we do art fairs, fundraisers, etc., etc.

Target demographics: people who like to create art, whether visual, music, literary or drama, who also live with some form of mental illness.

Direct beneficiaries per year: Our studio serves approximately 35 - 50 artists per year, and we print work from approximately 35 authors in our literary journal annually.

Geographic areas served: Chicago, Chicagoland, DuPage County, Kane County, Cook County, Will County, and sometimes all of Illinois

Programs: art groups, classes, exhibits, producing The Awakenings Review, poetry readings/slams, music and dramatic productions.

Community Stories

6 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1 Terry87

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Awakenings Project not only gives voice to artists, musicians and writers living with mental illness, it brings awareness, understanding, appreciation and acceptance to the world at large. The creativity is astounding, the volunteers tireless, the shared benefit immeasurable. We all are enriched.

1 kraymax


Rating: 5

Awakenings has been a journey of awakening the artistic possibilities for my son. They have provided space, supplies, support and opportunities that he would not have had otherwise. It's an encouraging community that we are delighted to support.

Previous Stories

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

We have followed the Awakenings Project through our son for eight years now. The project continues to grow, flourish, and offer opportunities for shows and sales to artists who might otherwise get lost in the shuffle. The artists offer paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, furniture, pottery --an amazing breadth of expression.

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1 Ted_10

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

This is a beautiful group of people sharing their creativity and connections with each other and the world!

2 Robert143

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have worked with The Awakening Project in the past and they obviously touch the souls of some very unique and talented artist.


General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I love what they are doing with art to help those with mental illness.


General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My name is Mary Ann and I suffer from a mental illness, schizophrenia, and I love art. I am a self-taught artist and although I knew I was not alone, I never knew that there were groups on line for people just like me. Even tho I live several states away, The Awakenings Project has had a big impact on my life. My confidence level has risen and I am inspired so much by the other members works. I hope to take a road trip some day and meet this great group of people.

Comments ( 1 )


the_awakenings_project 01/12/2012

Thank you so much Mary Ann for taking the time and investing the energy to write a review of Awakenings. You are so awesome! You've been an inspiration to me, to know that we can have an influence even from a distance. Keep creating and sharing. I know the whole Awakenings community loves your energy! Irene