Changing Voices

An arts-employment program that helps vulnerable young people find their voices, discover their self-worth, and develop the capacity to envision and pursue meaningful futures.

Working 30 Hours/Week to Transform Themselves and the Community.

Changing Voices employs young people recently released from the justice system to craft musical theatre from their own experiences. It’s a safe space where they are empowered to celebrate their histories, perform their stories in the community and build the skills needed for future success.

Changing Voices’ Program Outcomes

Social Emotional Learning  ​​

Young people develop the tools to approach conflicts and new connections with empathy, leading to a broader awareness and openness to new insights. The program provides young people a safe space that fosters the patience, introspection, vulnerability, and confidence needed to choose positive social interactions. By crafting and performing stories, youth gain empathy as they see someone else as themselves and identify with those who are different. They replace the fear of others’ stories with the discovery of those that are common between them.

Reframing Expectations of Self and Relationships ​

Young people discover the positive power of their voice and story. They see what stability looks like. We challenge them to expect more of themselves and discover their agency. They no longer assume their circumstances will remain the same. They then commit themselves to a positive path forward and expect that same positivity and support in the relationships around them.   ​

Envisioning Future Self​

Young people challenge themselves to think beyond what they know and broaden their views on the community, city and world around them. By giving them weekly exposure to supportive cultural and educational experiences, and a safe space to process their observations, they develop a willingness to try new things, see new possibilities and envision themselves as valuable members of society. They reclaim their narrative one audience member at a time and develop the courage to advocate for themselves.

Career Readiness/Preparedness

Young people develop skills to look beyond immediate survival and identify plans for the future. Whether the next steps are education or employment, through creative workshops, employment opportunities and community networks, they practice the skills needed to become more career ready. They begin to see themselves reflected in successful people who have shared their experience and begin to see success in themselves. By the end of their time with Changing Voices, they have replaced fear with confidence. 

Changing Voices 2019 Tour Impact.

Number of Tour Performances

At-Risk Youth in Attendance

CPD Recruits In Attendance

Judges & Civic Influencers in Attendance

A powerful readiness curriculum built around musical theatre.

Changing Voices is a family. A safe space for discovery and growth.

CV ensemble members progress through an arts curriculum that prepares them for further employment or education after Storycatchers. With the aid of a full-time Licensed Clinical Social Worker and trained staff, they use the process of creating musical theatre to confront past traumas and be empowered to move forward in a positive direction.

Artistic Excellence and Creative Thinking

  • Story-writing.
  • Stage presence and performance.
  • Character and situational exploration.
  • Expressing powerful emotions through song.
  • Fostering confidence and courage.

Job Readiness

  • Office technology training.
  • Job application strategies and skills.
  • Financial literacy.
  • Workplace expectations.
  • Discovery of new opportunities.
  • Career planning and goal setting.
  • Discovering the value of commitment.

Communication and Collaboration

  • Ensemble building.
  • Peer mentorship and leadership training.
  • Empathy and introspection
  • Emotion management.
  • Self-advocacy.
  • A safe space to be vulnerable.

Working with the Chicago Police Department.

Once per month, CV participants and more than 100 CPD recruits get onstage and switch roles in a staged traffic stop written from a real-life encounter. During the 60-minute workshop, these two seemingly opposing groups come together for meaningful interaction and conversation.  This program is made possible in part by support from Bright Promises Foundation, Caerus Foundation, Inc., and Justice Challenge.

“I cannot thank Storycatchers enough…

We want to let these [police] recruits know about the history of their interaction as an institution with people of color… so that they understand when  they walk into these neighborhoods, why they’re not greeted with open arms and love… How they can honor the past and reimagine the future.


Performances for Chicago Youth.

The Changing Voices ensemble has performed their musicals in more than 100 locations, many in Chicago Public Schools located in underserved neighborhoods. After the show, they discuss their message of hope, change and positive reinforcement with the children who are about to make important life choices.

Apply to Changing Voices.

Young adults aged 17-24 who have been involved with the justice system can apply to work in our ensemble. Join our dedicated family, make an hourly wage and make change in the community  while you learn skills that will put you on the path to success. Apply online in just a few minutes.

Interested in booking a Changing Voices Presentation?

Dynamic performances. Innovative workshops. Thought-provoking discussions. Changing Voices performs their original musical theatre based on real life experiences in communities all over Chicago and beyond. Contact Elizia to get us in your school or civic event.

Send Elizia a Message

Changing Voices Program Sponsored by Allstate

Storycatchers is deeply grateful to its generous friends at the Allstate Insurance Company, who have committed for a third year as the corporate sponsor for the Changing Voices tour.  Here’s a round of applause for the people who know that all it takes is a few good hands.