This year’s charity is Barrel of Monkeys (
Barrel of Monkeys


Barrel of Monkeys (BOM) is an ensemble of actor-educators that creates an alternative learning environment in which children share their personal voices and celebrate the power of their imaginations. BOM accomplishes this through creative writing workshops and in-school performances of children’s stories. Barrel of Monkeys also engages the broader community in support of the visions of children through public performances of their work.


A radically kind Chicago that champions children’s ideas.

What We Do

BOM’s residency program brings 4-5 teaching artists into the classroom, creating an engaging and extremely personalized learning environment. The multi-week residency includes interactive drama, storytelling, and a variety of writing exercises. Each child writes a minimum of 6-8 individual stories in a residency. When the residency has finished, BOM’s professional actors, improvisers and musicians transform the stories, poems and essays into a fast-paced sketch show for the stage. The actors then return to the school and perform these works for the young authors themselves and their entire school community.

Core Values

  • To build student confidence in self-expression and self-esteem by providing workshops that create a safe and supportive place to explore thoughts and ideas, while validating those ideas through high quality professional performance;
  • To raise student enthusiasm for language arts by providing an interactive residency that creates a joyful environment to express ideas followed by a hyper-energetic performance of the students’ writing;
  • To build confidence in English writing skills for all students by providing creative writing alternatives that include storyboards, student dictation, one-on-one writing work and more;
  • To provide consistent and nurturing relationships with an adult role model over a sustained period of time by providing weekly one-on-one time between BOM facilitators and students;
  • To provide high quality, critically-acclaimed theater to the students we serve and the broader Chicago community.
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