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Since its inception in 2002, Ray of Hope Center of the Arts (COTA) has delivered 16 productions that educate, inspire and provide a ray of hope in people’s lives. To date, Ray of Hope COTA has provided Teen REACH programming through the Illinois Department of Human Services, After School Matters through the City of Chicago, and other programs to more than 500 teenagers. The organization has also worked closely with more than 100 adult artists and reached about 3,000 people through an array of plays and productions.

Creativity, Connectivity, Community, and Careers are the guiding principles that steer the organization towards excellence. The arts are used as a creative means for youth to develop “voice,” share their ideas and views, connect to the community and, in many cases, prepare for arts-related careers. The challenge is to commit to the work, research and understand how it relates to people, set high goals, and work hand in hand to achieve them. Teen artists are also challenged to discover more about themselves, their culture, and fully embrace who they are in order to transfer this same sense of pride to their audiences.

The use of powerful images, stories, music, and dance help teens replace negative self-images with a more positive view of themselves, their community, and the world—not as they are so often portrayed in the media. Experience shows that this opens up a whole new world of possibilities for youth and adults alike.

Ray of Hope COTA’s leadership places excellent programs and services high on its organizational value system.


Ray of Hope Center of the Arts (COTA) is a youth-focused arts organization that creates innovative programs and delivers authentic performances filled with positive messages to uplift people while transforming lives through the use of visual, media, and the performing arts.


Our vision is to become a leading arts activism group, dedicated to igniting a cultural revolution by using the creative arts for human elevation and development and social change.

Facts about Ray of Hope COTA

  • Excellent programs and services are high on our organizational value system.
  • Presentation of Dreamgirls was nominated for a Black Theatre Alliance Award for best musical director in October 2007 after only two years of operation;
  • Audience surveys affirm the stellar quality of our events;
  • Provided Youth Leadership and Job Skills Training to 77 teens in FY 2010;
  • Youth members planned and implemented Underage Drinking Conference for 300 High School Students in May 2010;
  • Launched Innovative Media Group, a youth-led record label and production company;
  • Youth wrote 2 original musical plays to promote peace and reduce youth violence;
  • Audience surveys overwhelmingly affirm the stellar quality of our events; and
  • Youth members received the 2009 Peace Leader Award from The Illinois Center for Violence Prevention for their onstage advocacy promoting peace.

Our teaching artists are fully credentialed with more than 20 years of experience in arts programs.

Southside Arts and Humanities Network Southside Arts and Humanities Network
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Striving To Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere (STRYVE) Striving To Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere (STRYVE)
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Illinois African American Coalition for Prevention
Illinois African American Coalition for Prevention
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Illinois After-School Partnership
Illinois After-School Partnership
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The Jane Goodall Institute
The Jane Goodall Institute
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