PLATINUM2023

A.B.L.E. - ARTISTS BREAKING LIMITS & EXPECTATIONS

everyone is ABLE to connect, ABLE to contribute, and ABLE to create

Chicago, IL   |  www.ableensemble.com

Mission

We believe everyone is A.B.L.E. to connect, to contribute, and to create. We are A.B.L.E. - Artists Breaking Limits & Expectations. Our mission is to provide performing arts opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome and other intellectual and developmental disabilities to share who they are and all they are A.B.L.E. to do. By placing people with disabilities in the spotlight, A.B.L.E. strives to shift societal preconceptions about disability, and build more inclusive, empathetic communities.

Ruling year info

2016

Founder & Executive Artistic Director

Kathryn Yohe

Main address

PO Box 147069

Chicago, IL 60614 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

81-2667531

NTEE code info

Performing Arts (A60)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

It is rare to see individuals with disabilities onstage. When we do, they are often presented, not as three-dimensional people, but as catalysts for a typically-abled protagonist to learn some life lesson. The conversation is about the person with disabilities rather than with them, and so audiences are not challenged to consider a new perspective. A.B.L.E. strives to create platforms for individuals with disabilities to share who they are and all that they are A.B.L.E. to do. By sharing our work through public performances, we hope to put individual faces on often-stigmatized conditions, deepen our audiences’ understanding of this diverse population, and to shift societal preconceptions about disability.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

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

Ensembles

Supported by a team of teaching artists and volunteer facilitators, ensembles work together to create theatre and film projects. Ensembles produce between 2-6 projects annually. These have included feature films, devised shows, and classical adaptations. This mix allows actors to share their own voices with audiences, and to claim ownership over stories which have not traditionally been “for” them. Each semester, ABLE hosts a range of 6-week, 12-week, and 26-week courses to engage participants of all different levels of experience.

Population(s) Served
People with intellectual disabilities
Young adults

Through our outreach programs, A.B.L.E. shares our methodology to make our community stronger. A.B.L.E. Teaching Artists and Creative Associates visit schools and other community organizations that serve individuals with I/DD for workshops and longer residencies. A.B.L.E. also leads professional development trainings for businesses interested in deepening their practices for inclusivity and accessibility.

Population(s) Served
People with intellectual disabilities
Artists and performers

Where we work

Awards

Audience Choice Award, Best Narrative Feature Film 2018

Awareness Festival

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of participants attending course/session/workshop

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with intellectual disabilities

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This number reflects total enrollment across all programs. Note that many participants enroll for multiple programs throughout the year. We have made every effort to only count each participant once.

Total number of classes offered

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with intellectual disabilities

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Total across all programs

Number of volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Class facilitators, interns, front of house helpers, and other one-time volunteers such as photographers across all programming. Those who volunteer for multiple programs have been counted only once.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

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

By promoting practices that place participants with disabilities in the spotlight, and giving them ownership over their experiences, A.B.L.E.’s work strives to shift societal preconceptions about disability, and build more inclusive, empathetic communities.

As an organization, A.B.L.E. aims to create equal access to creative opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Our theatre and film based programs aim to:
* Develop agency & independence
* Create a safe and respectful space
* Enhance speech and communication
* Encourage movement and physicality
* Value teamwork and cooperation
* Build focus and concentration
* Celebrate creativity and spontaneity
* Strengthen social skills by developing positive peer relationships
* Share our experiences with each other and our community

Looking at the next 3 years (FY22, FY23, and FY24), A.B.L.E.'s leadership is focused a three key goals that will impact all levels of the organization:
1) Strengthening diversity across our leadership, artists, and partners
2) Deepening our networks in the arts, disability, and business communities through increased outreach partnerships
3) Creating job opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities

A.B.L.E. creates theatre and film for, with, and by actors with I/DD through 3 branches of programming - Ensembles, Skills, and Outreach.

A.B.L.E.'s core programs are its Ensembles for teens and adults. Supported by a team of teaching artists and volunteer facilitators, ensembles work together to create theatre and film projects while strengthening lifelong skills including communication, confidence, and cooperation. In FY21, A.B.L.E. added a 4th ensemble, and currently serves a total of 39 actors through this flagship program. Ensembles meet for 10 weekly 90-minute rehearsals while working towards a final project. These projects allow actors to share their imaginations with audiences, and to claim ownership over stories which have not traditionally been “for” them. Ensembles continued creating through the COVID19 pandemic, and have shared their work with a global audience through 10 livestream events.

A.B.L.E.’s Skill-Building Series introduces participants to deepen performance techniques including Puppetry and On-Camera Acting. Workshops allow veteran ensemble members to deepen their practice, while welcoming new participants with I/DD to experience A.B.L.E.’s approach. In addition to specialized curricula developed by A.B.L.E. teaching artists, we also partner with guest artists for workshops. In FY21, A.B.L.E. teaching artists developed 5 new virtual workshops, and doubled the number of workshops offered in the year.

Lastly, A.B.L.E. shares our methodology through Outreach programs. Teaching artists visit community organizations that serve individuals with I/DD for workshops and longer residencies. A.B.L.E. also offers consulting and professional development training for industry professionals interested in deepening their practices for inclusivity and accessibility. This year, A.B.L.E. developed 3 new professional development workshops including Understanding Learners with Down Syndrome and Autism and Virtual Rehearsal Strategies.

Whether in person or online, A.B.L.E. strives to foster independence, deepen social skills, and celebrate creativity. A.B.L.E. has developed a pedagogy that ensures everyone - regardless of memory, verbal ability, or literacy - can stand in the spotlight. All sessions are structured to accommodate multiple learning styles by incorporating a range of visual aids, sign language, and sensory tools, and maintaining a 2:1 ratio of participants to trained support. To deepen engagement in virtual sessions, A.B.L.E. curates customized kits with visual aids and resources that are mailed to all participants. We evaluate programs through regular feedback from actors, their caregivers, and our teaching team to ensure sessions meet the unique needs and goals of each participant.

A.B.L.E. relies on its Board of Directors (BOD) to share their professional expertise and resources to secure A.B.L.E.’s future. The BOD meets quarterly and its committees (Governance, Finance, Development, and DEI) meet monthly. The BOD is responsible for managing finances, identifying strategic priorities, and advising the Executive Artistic Director (EAD).

A.B.L.E. has a small, but dedicated staff. Our The EAD moved to full-time in the beginning of FY22. They are responsible for managing day-to-day operations and for executing ABLEs strategic vision through partnerships and programs. The Program Coordinator (10hrs/wk) is responsible for scheduling sessions, registering participants, and managing volunteers. A.B.L.E. works with other seasonal employees and contractors on a project-by-project basis.

COVID19 derailed plans to hire a part-time Development Associate, but we hope to hire a qualified staffer in FY22 who can outline strategies for building new and expanding existing donor relationships, and support grant-writing efforts. We anticipate increased revenue through individual and institutional giving that will allow us to decrease reliance on program registration fees.

A.B.L.E. is an itinerant organization, relying on partnerships with various organizations to host classes and performances. Finding accessible central locations with easy transportation options can present occasional scheduling challenges. Fortunately, A.B.L.E. has built reliable relationships with venue partners including The Menomonee Club Drucker Center and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. We also anticipate maintaining some amount of virtual programs, even when a return to in-person programming is possible.

The COVID19 pandemic presented significant challenges and required creativity, adaptability, and resilience from all stakeholders. The national reckoning around race served as a reminder that we can push harder – in our leadership, staffing, and programming – to nurture dialogue and encourage diverse perspectives. In 2020, we created a new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee composed of board members, staff, and volunteers to develop new initiatives and ensure accountability.

In FY22, we worked towards our goals by:

1) Letting our community lead through initiatives like our Program Advisory Council and our Creative Associates Initiative.

2) Investing in our people by expanding staff, reimagining our recruitment and hiring practices, and instituting an organization-wide minimum wage of $25/hour.

3) Removing barriers to participation by increasing our tech and travel assistance and offering pay-what-you-can pricing for our programs and performances.

4) Sharing what we know to help other companies make their work more inclusive by expanding our professional development series, including a contract with the Chicago Made Professional Development program, and leading sessions for organizations in Chicago and across the country.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

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

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We share the feedback we received with the people we serve, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time, It is hard to come up with good questions to ask people

Financials

A.B.L.E. - ARTISTS BREAKING LIMITS & EXPECTATIONS
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Operations

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

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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

A.B.L.E. - ARTISTS BREAKING LIMITS & EXPECTATIONS

Board of directors
as of 11/17/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Dennis Rossow

Retired (former HR Director at Comcast)

Term: 2022 - 2024

Kendra Van Kempen

La Grange Public Library

Joe Marren

EdOps

Mary Kate Ashe

Freelance

Rosie Bross

Stewart Talent

Lisa Bracker

Vista Higher Learning

Erin Kaukialo

Retired (former Managing Partner at Slack Lifestyle USA)

Nicole Kuebler

Storygize

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    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? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/17/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person with a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 12/19/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.