Project FIRE

 Project FIRE (Fearless Initiative for Recovery and Empowerment) is an artist development employment program that offers healing through glassblowing, combining glass arts education, mentoring, and trauma psychoeducation to support trauma recovery and create jobs for youth injured by violence.  

Support Project FIRE HERE

Stay tuned! Film Screening: PTSD Beyond Trauma.

A documentary film by filmmakers Andrea Schmidt and Patrick Reed for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The film explores promising new discoveries about personal responses to trauma and highlights ArtReach Chicago’s Project FIRE program. DATE & TIME TBA! 

Based in part on a longitudinal study of gun violence in Chicago, researchers publishing in the Journal of the American Medical Association have made an argument that gun violence is a public health concern, explaining how it can spread like an infectious disease. Researchers noted that those victimized by violence live in very small social networks. These networks and their geographic spaces are characterized by entrenched segregation and poverty, a lack of viable educational and employment opportunities, as well as the absence of physical and mental health resources.

Co-created by glass artist Pearl Dick and clinical psychologist Bradley Stolbach with the support of a University of Chicago Medicine Urban Health Initiative Faculty Fellowship, Project FIRE is a partnership of Healing Hurt People – ChicagoFirehouse Art Studio, and ArtReach Chicago. The 2016 Project FIRE summer cohort is supported by the Leo S. Guthman Fund and Fall 2016 sessions are funded in part by The Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities.


Read more about Project FIRE: Chicago Reader  

Watch participant Trell’s music video and share it on Facebook 

Project FIRE has been featured on local news programs twice:

Chicago Tonight



South Side Weekly

Chicago Reader Cover Feature

On Shannon Downey's community craftivism project for Project FIRE

Read our Stories Here

How It Works

Project FIRE is a 9-week program, serving five male youth between thirteen and eighteen years of age, as well as two youth mentors between the ages of fifteen and twenty-two. The youth are paid $10 an hour and mentors are paid $12 an hour for their dedication of twelve hours a week to the program. Each week, participants receive 4 to 8 hours of instruction and studio time in the glass hot shop combined with discussions about the impact of traumatic violence, guided by a clinical psychologist. The remaining 4 to 8 hours a week will be spent gaining entrepreneurial skills and career experience in studio maintenance, glass blowing production, and gift shop management.

Why Glass?

Glass blowing demands focus­—you need to leave everything else at the door or you can get hurt. Glass blowing also requires collaboration and communication because most pieces cannot be done alone. The adrenaline rush glass blowing provides, and the teamwork it requires, helps in the healing of these youth.

Our Goals

1.) Prevent violence in youth who are among those at highest risk for violence through a combination of glass arts education, mentoring, and trauma-specific psychoeducation.

2.) Offer youth a safe place to connect with peers facing similar struggles, and provide protective, positive, safe relationships with older youth and adults.

3.) Provide a program that functions as a sustainable ecosystem that gives participating youth concrete art skills and certifications, management experience, and other social-emotional supports that also support and stabilize the Firehouse studio.