PTDYA provides professional music and arts education in Chicago’s under-resourced schools and communities so that our city’s most vulnerable youth have a supportive space to learn, grow, and thrive.

Since 2011, our after-school, in-school and summer programming has served over 2000 African American students, training Chicago’s youth in music, theatre, dance, and spoken word. Our educational curriculum, taught by highly trained professionals of color, successfully engages Chicago’s youth with mentor relationships, multiple learning opportunities, and renewed motivation to stay in school. 

The Professional Theatre and Dance Youth Academy (PTDYA) is a non-profit 501 C3 organization.

COVID RESPONSE

We serve Chicago’s communities that have been hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Our student population has suffered trauma from a high rate of community infections as well as increased food insecurity and a spike in violent crime. PTDYA provides a safe, supportive place to process trauma in this new reality. 


We successfully met this need during Spring 2021 with virtual programming, followed by in-person classes during the summer. Along with our students, we are thrilled to be safely back in schools beginning Fall 2021!

Our positive energy, dedication, and support is woven into the fabric of every contact we have with our students, whether in person or virtually.

PTDYA works with students in many of Chicago’s poorest and most violent communities, stripped of arts education opportunities.

Ralph Ellison High School
Auburn-Gresham Neighborhood

20% of students are homeless
93%  low-income households
1.3% of students meet English and Math proficiency for their grade

Austin Neighborhood

Ranks No. 1 in violent crime
Ranks second in homicides
Unemployment is 29%

Englewood Neighborhood

Unemployment is 37%
Ranks second in violent crime
59% of males have been arrested

We believe the performing arts cultivate discipline, confidence, and creative thinking which enables young people to become critical thinkers and leaders.

“The arts significantly boost student achievement, reduce discipline problems, and increase the odds students will go on to graduate from college.”
— Arne Duncan, Former CEO Chicago Public Schools and Former U.S. Secretary of Education

Many independent studies report the value of arts education:

  • Students engaged in the arts
    • More often attend college
    • Have better college grades
    • Get better job opportunities
  • At-risk dance students report significant gains in confidence, tolerance, and persistence
  • 4-year high school arts education adds 97 points to SAT scores

With your help and guidance I was able to get into my dream school, Columbia College. You have really inspired me and motivated me to become a leader and I want to be able to help someone one day the same way you helped me.

Joshua B, Student Alum