PTDYA’s mission is to keep quality arts and music education alive 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.


PTDYA envisions a future where there is equity in access to arts education for all youth, irrespective of race, and economic means.


As a young Black man growing up in Chicago’s Lawndale community, Michael experienced first-hand the challenges youth face in communities where there is too much violence. For him, arts education was a means to navigate trauma and provide a path forward.

After a successful career in professional theatre, where Michael performed with world-renowned artists and arts organizations such as the Young Americans, Liberace, and Ben Vereen, Michael transitioned to teaching. He saw the racial disparity evident in the arts and realized there was a dire need for increased interventions to support Chicago’s youth in under-resourced communities.

Michael started teaching after-school dance programs throughout the Chicagoland area. He met Ahava Silkey-Jones teaching at the YMCA in Woodlawn. They started working together, collaborating at the UChicago Charter School as PTD in 2009 and incorporating as PTDYA in 2011.


  • 2011

    Michael Jones and Ahava Silkey-Jones co-founded PTDYA

    PTDYA becomes primary arts provider for University of Chicago Charter School Network on Chicago’s south side

    PTDYA selected to produce “Fame Jr. the Musical,” featured on NBC news with Nia Peeples

  • 2012-13

    PTDYA hosts performance with famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who performs solo and with our students

    PTDYA performs for UChicago Gala in partnership with Chicago Symphony Orchestra

    PTDYA expands to Wadsworth Elementary, Tilton Elementary, Oak Park Middle School, and Marshall High School

  • 2013-14

    PTDYA presents at Redmoon Theater

  • 2016-17

    PTDYA expands to UChicago Charter School Woodson campus, becoming largest arts provider for the network

    Selected for University of Chicago Campus Catalyst Program

  • 2017-18

    Expands reach to Roseland, Englewood, and Auburn-Gresham neighborhoods

    Partners with U of Chicago Community Programs Accelerator

    PTDYA Presents: “Racism, A 21st Century Situation”

  • 2019-20

    PTDYA expands Board of Directors to broaden experience in professional capacities

    Selected as a Chicago Arts Council Cohort

  • 2020-2021

    PTDYA has served over 2000 students in grades K-12

    Develops e-learning platforms to accommodate students during Covid-19 pandemic