AS I AM is an effort to recognize KL Alumni who are Chicago-based Creatives 18+. The developing initiative is for those who do not have a fully defined career pathways ( i.e. college, professional career etc.). Annually, Kuumba Lynx recruits up to 20 youth artists ages 18+ on a rolling basis. Applicants are in Chicago seeking to build professional capacity in the performing arts, and or teaching.
KL knows that having the freedom and security to define your professional goals is essential to a young Creative thriving. Having gratitude for our city’s art & culture keepers, and demonstrating a commitment to supporting their career paths is where KL shows how deeply youth ages 18+ are valued in Chicago.
After years of struggling with limited resources and capacity to genuinely support youth 18+, KL Co Founders, Jacinda and Jaquanda officially launched AS I AM this spring. The initiative recognizes the need for a continuum of art making and cultural practice opportunity, particularly for youth 18+. “ We are family, so youth return or often never leave. KL space has provided comfort and stability and since the beginning we have tried to be inclusive, to meet each other where we are, at whatever junction, be it age, ability, readiness…(we) need to show up and be consistent for a lifetime…we’re asking these older youth, how can we support you, and we’re taking that back to the people who believe in our work, asking them to help, to recognize the need for more access & resources for this age group. We’re also intentionally investing our time and the small funding we have gotten, toward this work.” explained Jaquanda
The Chicago Hip Hop Theater Fest was the first unofficial AS I AM project. After years of trying to secure funding to engage and support youth 18+, the founders said “… forget it, we’re moving forward on our terms, and we made it (CHHTF) our “side” project.” Eventually, with the support of the board, volunteers, and a small NEA grant, KL presented the first CHHTF in 2016 as a 20th anniversary kick off event. The fest ran for 5 days and featured 10+ alumni and affiliates to an audience that mirrored their own cultural identities. At the CHHTF panel, Lead Creative & CHHTF Founder, Jaquanda stated “ We are going to remain committed to curating this kind of space and will be investing more of our time as founders in listening to our alumni and older youth…we want to work collaboratively with them to craft professional leadership & artistic opportunities like these, the things that they want & need. They deserve this kind of love!”
AS I AM CORE – Selection Process
No unsolicited AS I AM CORE Creative applications are accepted. CORE Creatives are nominated by other Chicago artists, arts advocates, curators, and presenters who are acutely knowledgeable about the young creative. They work in a wide variety of communities in the city. Nominees are invited to interview with AS I AM Directors to be considered as a AS I AM CORE Creative. If selected, the agreement last for one year and can be extended. AS I AM CORE Creative, youth can be eligible for project funding, intern & fellowships, informal and formal professional development, networking opportunities, and promotion. Additionally, AS I AM CORE Creatives have ongoing support of their Individualized Learning Plans (a self defined set of arts making & professional goals).