Illinois, the Land of Lincoln, is one of the most diverse and populous states in the United States. It is also the original home of Narrative 4. Following an early lead from founding members Cindy and Luis Urrea, we established a web of connections in Chicago and beyond. Sting and visionary N4 ambassador, Charles Miles, helped launch our programs at the Printers Row Festival in June of 2013. With the tremendous help of Charles, Kandice Cole, Faisal Mohyuddin, Adam Stern, Gia Interlandi, Laura Caldwell, Del Bloem and many others, we ran dozens of exchanges; hosted our first executive committee meeting and second annual summit in Chicago; and exponentially expanded our network in less than a year.
Chicago is the home of some of N4’s greatest partners, including Youth Guidance, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Loyola University’s Life After Innocence program, After School Matters, the Chicago Union League Club and the Chicago Public Library. It is also the site of some of the very first Narrative 4 story exchanges, through which we were able to test and experiment with exchange models, connect with students, educators and authors throughout the area, and form an early branch of what is quickly becoming N4’s global family. Chicago is an exciting and eclectic city, but, like many towns, it is not without serious problems. Endemic poverty and violence are a serious threat to the integrity of several of the city’s wonderful communities, but our advisors have hundreds of ideas to help solve the issues. We hope you will take the time to get to know the leaders behind our new Narrative 4 Illinois.