Arts, Culture, and Humanities

Snow City Arts Foundation

aka Snow City Arts

Chicago, IL


Snow City Arts inspires and educates children and youth in hospitals through the arts.

Ruling Year


Executive Director

Ms. Carrie Spitler

Main Address

1653 W. Congress Parkway Rush-Kidston 103

Chicago, IL 60612 USA


arts, children, hospitals, education





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Arts Education/Schools (A25)

Single Organization Support (E11)

Single Organization Support (O11)

IRS Filing Requirement

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Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

We aim to bridge the learning gap that children encounter when they miss school due to short-term or long-term hospitalization or chronic health care needs. We partner with Rush University Children’s Hospital, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Children’s Hospital University of Illinois, and Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. Our professional Teaching Artists work in inpatient and outpatient pediatric units to engage children in arts-based workshops in creative writing, media arts, music, theatre, visual arts, and dance. Artmaking in the hospital can be considered recreational or therapeutic work, but SCA is entirely unique in its focus on arts learning in a clinical setting. SCA works closely with our partner hospitals to create a rigorous, standards-based arts curriculum that can serve each child’s individual needs. We then create detailed reports that children and their parents may elect to submit to their respective schools for class or attendance.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

3 4 10 16

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Visual Art Workshops

Creative Writing Workshops

Music Workshops

Theater Workshops

Media Arts Workshops

Where we work

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

In 2020, SCA will engage 1,300 students in 3,200 high-quality arts learning workshops, over 3,000 instructional hours across five disciplines: creative writing, visual arts, music, theater, and media arts. SCA will engage students in matching 150 learning standards of which 50% reach at least one level of mastery and We will facilitate change in level of engagement for 50% of students along both the Creative Decision Making and Techniques and Technologies assessment protocols. We will also send 200 reports to students’ home schools to help students earn academic or attendance credit, and We will also engage our Teaching Artists in more than 900 hours of individualized or team-based professional development. Finally, we will produce at least one public-facing exhibition/event, outside of Gallery Night, highlighting Snow City Arts and our students.

Our programming is built to “meet students where they are” as our Teaching Artists adjust programming to each student’s unique interests, abilities, and needs while providing the rare opportunity to work toward school credit while hospitalized. All programming adheres to a set of Best Practices that puts the student first and informs our methods for the development, execution, and evaluation that our Teaching Artists develop curriculum against Student Decision Making, Customized, Differentiated Learning, and Artistic Process Valued Over Art Product. Across our five disciplines, our workshops include: Daily Discipline-Specific Projects in one of five disciplines which allows the student to explore interests uninhibited, resulting in a deepening of understanding and skill in arts concepts and where Teaching Artists craft curriculum designed to guide a student through the exploration of discipline-specific arts concepts and techniques; Peer-to-Peer Level Projects that provide creative ways for students to collaborate with other hospitalized children without being in the same room due to health conditions that limit students working side-by-side; and Personal Projects for children who are hospitalized for long periods of time who create a piece in a single genre or intersecting genres that to be completed over several days and visits of instruction, which allow a student to take pride in a sense of completion and ownership over their work. SCA utilizes an assessment rubric with six-outcomes Creative Decision Making, Applying Techniques and Technologies, Sense of Self as Artist, Making Connections, Reflection, and Experimentation. These areas are measured over a four-point mastery scale: Exploring, Developing, Proficient, and Accomplished. This rubric is applied in every workshop that the Teaching Artists consider to be the student working at their ‘normal’ ability. The rubric is not employed when a student is clearly not feeling well, but wants to engage in making art. All Snow City Arts curriculum is aligned to state and national learning standards in the artistic and academic standards to ensure rigor. In January 2015, we adopted the New Illinois Learning Standards Incorporating the Common Core in Literacy and Math, the Next Generation Science Standards, the National Curriculum for Social Studies, and the recently released National Core Arts Standards. Our Teaching Artists and Program Director collaboratively select from over 1,000 learning standards to ensure rigor and comprehensive learning in every project.

Database Snow City Arts is committed to making its data collection and assessment tools as robust and efficient as possible. Now in its fifth year of use, we hope to upgrade our custom-built Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-compliant database to make reporting and deep data analysis more efficient. This software tool permits our artists and administrative staff to precisely track each student’s demographic information, mastery of learning standards, assessment outcomes, and artistic portfolio. The report function needs to be more robust. The goal of these improvements is to make it a more efficient tool for program staff, and to report deeper analytical trends that are not currently readily available. School Reports SCA’s software allows us to track individual student data, mastery of learning standards, and learning development. Twice each year, we produce comprehensive reports and artistic portfolios for each student who signs a release to be sent back to their home schools. By sending these achievement reports to students’ schools, SCA helps provide a continuous academic track for arts learning. Through an agreement with clinical staff and the Department of Child and Family Services, students in the inpatient psychiatric unit at Children’s Hospital University of Illinois are now eligible for such reporting and potential credit.

Our Teaching Artists assess as many outcomes as applicable to the workshop at hand however, due to the first interaction providing the baseline data, we can only measure change in a student when we see them for a second time. This means that we have little impact data on one-time encounters, which is about 50% of the time. As a result, SCA ran two pilots for how we might better collect data on the impact of one-time engagements. We are coding data and, if another pilot is not needed, we hope to institute an additional data-gathering method, including adjusting our database to accommodate this data. Theory of Change Over the last two years, SCA has undertaken the process of developing and testing its Theory of Change. Since the number of times a student engages with SCA varies from just once to potentially 100 times over the course of many years, it is difficult to define how learning occurs through these variations. Our draft theory therefore defines goals for learning dependent upon the number of engagements a student has with SCA over a specific time period. SCA has utilized the work of Arts and Business Council consultants to do a thorough data analysis of learning and assessment trends within the first three full years of student data in its new database. That analysis indicated that our rubric is strong, more training could be done it with our users, and that the Theory of Change is generally on track. There are also a series of next steps based on the analysis. In addition to additional training on the rubric, SCA will tweak our Theory of Change just a bit to better reflect impact based on the number of engagements, we are considering building an Advance Placement rubric for those students who come to us with a depth of experience in the arts; and we need to solve for the impact of just one workshop.

In 2018, SCA engaged with 1,295 students in 2,930 workshops resulting in 2,727 instructional hours. While the majority of our participants hail from the Chicagoland area, SCA also works with students from the Midwest region and across the country. Now that SCA is fully operational at Central DuPage Hospital, our first suburban partner, we have expanded our geographic reach to a wider array of students than at any time in the organization’s history. Our students range in age from early childhood to early 20s. In 2018, 85% of our students fell between the ages of 6 and 18. Our student population is comprised of 30% African-American, 24% Latinx, 43% Caucasian and 3% Asian-American students. 54% of our students are female, 46% are male. Across all hospitals, approximately 65% of our students come from low-income households, and receive either free or reduced-fee medical care. In 2018, SCA celebrated its 20th Anniversary with a series of six events throughout the year, showcasing the work of students in five Chicagoland hospitals. Each event focused on one of the genres in which SCA provides programming, and were presented in partnership with some of Chicago’s most esteemed cultural institutions. These events included a Creative Writing exhibition in partnership with Open Books, a Visual Arts Exhibition in partnership with The Arts Incubator at The University of Chicago, an exhibition on Teaching Artistry in partnership with Weinberg/Newton Gallery, an original work of theatre in partnership with Steppenwolf Education, a Media Arts Festival at Gene Siskel Film Center, and a Night of Music at Schuba’s. All of these events served as a retrospective of 20 years of students’ work in hospitals, and were free and open to the public. All of these events provided opportunities for current and former SCA students to re-engage with teaching artists, to not only see their work in a professionally-presented manner, but reflect on how their time with SCA influenced their artistic growth as individuals.

How We Listen

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

Source: Self-reported by organization

the feedback loop
check_box We shared information about our current feedback practices.
How is the organization collecting feedback?
We regularly collect feedback through: case management notes, suggestion box/email.

External Reviews

Affiliations & Memberships

Coming Up Taller Award - The White House and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities 2016



Snow City Arts Foundation

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Need more info?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2017, 2016 and 2015
  • A Pro report is also available for this organization.

See what's included

Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?


Organizational Demographics

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? This organization has voluntarily shared information to answer this important question and to support sector-wide learning. GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 03/23/2020


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & Ethnicity
Gender Identity
Female, Not Transgender (Cisgender)
Sexual Orientation
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or other sexual orientations in the LGBTQIA+ community
Disability Status
Person with a disability

Race & Ethnicity

No data

Gender Identity

No data

Sexual Orientation

No data


No data