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About Us

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We bridge the gap for thousands of children who don’t have access to educational programs because of illness.

Every day, Snow City Arts Foundation teaches hospitalized children the art of creative writing, music, painting, photography, and filmmaking. Young patients can take part in art workshops seven days a week as they cultivate their skills.

We exist because each year 40,000 hospitalized children regularly miss school because of their need for treatment.


Snow City Arts recognizes that chronically ill children—those who spend weeks or months in and out of the hospital—are often deprived of the same educational support enjoyed by healthy children.

Snow City Arts addresses this trend through our pioneering educational workshops in Creative Writing, Music, Visual Arts, and Theater which provide much-needed developmental outlets for hospitalized children. As opposed to therapy or recreation, Snow City Arts’ programs put the focus on learning.

Through our unique partnership with the Chicago Public School system, children in our programs can receive classroom credit for work accomplished in the hospital. Artistically, our programs are fueled in part by partnerships with some of Chicago’s most esteemed cultural and academic institutions.

Since 1998, more than 11,000 hospitalized children have learned how putting a value on their education is only second to their quest for good health, and how artistic pursuits translate to life-learned skills.


We exist because children frequently struggle in school due to hospitalization. Founded in 1998 through a flagship partnership with Rush University Medical Center, more than a decade later, 11,000 hospitalized children have benefited from our programs.

In 2002, Snow City Arts expanded to Stroger Hospital of Cook County and was named Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois’ Community Organization of the Year. In 2003, the Chicago Public Schools extended a formal partnership to Snow City Arts, so children could receive classroom credit for work completed in the hospital. In 2005 we created a partnership with Children’s Memorial Hospital—Illinois’ largest freestanding hospital.

In 2006 the White House honored Snow City Arts as one of the 15 finest youth arts programs in the nation, bestowing the prestigious Coming Up Taller Award from the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

Snow City Arts is the only program of its kind in Chicago.


On average, children with serious illness spend about half the amount of time in the classroom as their healthy peers. Snow City Arts’ programs are designed to fill this educational void. Currently, some children spend time in hospitals almost every week, yet never qualify for much needed tutoring. In contrast, each week Snow City Arts provides approximately 125 hours of instruction to hospitalized children at Rush University Children's Hospital, John H. Stroger Hospital of Cook County, and Children’s Memorial Hospital.

Child Life Specialists, therapists, social workers and other hospital departments address the psychosocial needs of hospitalized children. Snow City Arts augments those services by addressing a child’s developmental and educational needs—we do so by using the arts as a springboard for learning.

Creative Writing Workshops focus on language skills by helping children exercise good reading, spelling, and grammar habits—not to mention expand their vocabulary. Our Music Workshop teaches children to play the guitar or piano, read sheet music, learn music software, compose and record original songs, or even learn music theory. Theater Workshops enhance communication, self-reliance, and team-building skills through performance and voice techniques. The Visual Arts Workshop teaches children art history, drawing and painting technique, photography skills, digital imaging, and—when they create a short film in our Young Directors Program—much needed hands-on computer experience.

Snow City Arts is an official partner with Chicago Public Schools, ensuring children in our programs can receive classroom credit for work accomplished in the hospital. We integrate national standards in the arts into workshop evaluation systems.

Our community partnerships with organizations such as the Art Institute of Chicago and the Smart Museum of Art allow us to use these outside resources to create richer educational programs for our children, as well as enhance professional development for our teaching staff. Snow City Arts is also an Urban Missions Partner with Columbia College Chicago—one of only six nonprofits in the city to hold a formal partnership with the school.

To ensure children continue to learn after they leave our programs, we work to place children in community-based programs once their hospital treatment has ended. Snow City Arts sets aside scholarship money so families are able to afford art programs and see their child’s creative knowledge and skills grow.

At the request of the Chairmen of Pediatrics, Snow City Arts is part of the pediatric residency rotation at each hospital, which allows every new pediatric resident time to learn about how our programs impact their patients, and how to use our services to their advantage.


Doctors, for good reason, focus on what’s wrong with the child. Snow City Arts focuses on what’s still right with the child—their imagination.

The children Snow City Arts serves miss substantial amounts of school because of illness. Today we work with pediatric patients in three major Chicago medical institutions—Rush University Children's Hospital, John H. Stroger Hospital of Cook County, and Children’s Memorial Hospital.

Through our lasting affiliations with these hospitals, Snow City Arts serves children of all ages, but most students are between the ages of 8 and 18 years old. More than three quarters of the children we work with are ethnic minorities, and the majority are considered economically underprivileged. About half of our children use English as their second language.

Most importantly, many of these children were good or exceptional students before their need for hospitalization. Now, most are failing classes as they have been in and out of the hospital for months or even years. Snow City Arts works with these children to boost their confidence levels, stimulate their minds, and return them on a path toward learning. Last year alone, more than 1,500 children took part in our workshops.


To reach 1,500 hospitalized children with arts education programming.


Paul Sznewajs


Kate Neisser
Keith Boyd
Peter Schmitz
Bill Loumpouridis
Wendy Shulman
Sheri Warsh
Jason Star
Fred Lehrman
Catriona Johnson
Kristy Peterson
Emily Pick
Cathy Skala
Andreas Hecht
Deborah Jackson
George Filley


United States




1653 West Congress Parkway
Office 599 Jones
Chicago, IL 60612
Phone: 3129426991
EIN: 36-4240513

A Gift Card


Arts Education

Visual Arts Workshop

Your gift will help support our Visual Arts Workshop that teaches children art history, drawing and painting techniques, photography skills, digital imaging, filmmaking and much needed hands-on computer experience. In these workshops children learn to identify core artistic building blocks such as line, shape, perspective, color theory, and space. They learn principles of repetition and pattern and the expressive qualities of mood, emotion, and pictoral...