2013—Seeking to establish a model of collaboration between art, community, and activism, the Foundation for Homan Square and North Lawndale business and civic leaders invite the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) to open its first classroom space outside of downtown in Nichols Tower.

2015—As part of the Homan Square Arts Initiative (HSAI), SAIC opens its space on Nichols Tower’s 10th and 12th floors. Programming includes artist residencies, free community art courses, and civically engaged design projects. After consulting with community members, HSAI expands in 2016 to offer courses geared toward getting jobs, increased teen programming, and intergenerational and senior classes.

SAIC’s Artist-In-Residence program begins in April with SAIC alum Scheherazade Tillet (MA 2005) as the inaugural artist. Tillet’s nonprofit organization A Long Walk Home uses art therapy and the visual and performing arts to help end violence against women and girls. While in residence, she collaborates with community members to establish a memorial for police-shooting victim Rekia Boyd and teaches community photography workshops showing African American girls how to tell their stories.

2016—The National Endowment for the Arts awards SAIC the prestigious Our Town $75,000 grant in May to help beautify Homan Square, promote the work of local artists, and give underserved high school students mentorship and valuable skills to help them to achieve their goals.