Dear Ingenuity Community:

It is at the core of our founding vision to promote the value of arts education, and ultimately challenge systems and structures that uphold racial and socioeconomic barriers to equity and arts education access. From our inception, we’ve been guided by an unwavering commitment to providing every student, in every grade, in every Chicago Public School, with access to a high-quality arts education.

To fulfill this mission, it’s essential that our internal operations align with our external commitment to equity. We understand that true success hinges on our organization reflecting the very principles we advocate.

In October 2022, we embarked on an incredible journey by launching our first-ever Equity Action Plan (EAP) following two years of intense learning, unlearning, and strategic planning. The Morten Group, a renowned consulting firm specializing in racial equity, partnered with us, creating a safe space for open, honest conversations, collective learning, and progress within our organization.

It’s crucial to recognize that our journey is ongoing.  Our Equity Action Plan is not a one-time checklist but a living, breathing document, guiding our interactions and operations. As Executive Director, I am resolute in ensuring we remain steadfast in our commitment to achieving our ambitious goals.

Our Equity Action Plan isn’t just about internal transformation; it significantly impacts our work within Chicago Public Schools and in Chicago’s arts education ecosystem. We aim to mirror the diversity of the students, teachers, and arts partners we serve, ensuring that our staff truly represents the city of Chicago, incorporating their lived experiences into every aspect of our work.

Over the past year, we’ve made significant strides in our commitment to equity:

  • Established a leadership feedback process to amplify diverse voices and perspectives.
  • Identified opportunities for shared leadership in organization-wide projects, ensuring equitable access to professional growth.
  • Launched employee groups to foster inclusive spaces and shared cultural belonging.
  • Created a calendar of employee-led engagement opportunities to enhance cultural awareness.
  • Recognized staff contributions through internal news briefs and at staff meetings.
  • Initiated organizational retreats to ensure all voices are heard in decision-making.
  • Introduced monthly office hours for equitable leadership access.
  • Invested significantly in staff well-being and relational safety through The Walker Thomas Group, a Black woman-owned HR Consulting Group.

Our journey toward equity is far from over, but we invite you to celebrate our progress thus far and join us in our unwavering commitment to creating a more equitable Chicago. Thank you for being a vital part of the Ingenuity community.

With gratitude,

Nicole Upton

About Ingenuity:

Ingenuity’s mission is to ensure that every Chicago Public Schools student, in every grade, in every school, has  equitable access to the arts as part of a well-rounded education. Ingenuity collaborates with stakeholders across Chicago’s arts education sector to ensure all 330,000 Chicago Public Schools students have equitable access to a quality arts education. This work doesn’t happen in a vacuum; to move the needle on quality arts education, we work collectively with arts educators, arts partners, policymakers, civic leaders, and, crucially, you. 


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