Generous gift brings new possibilities for Institute for Therapy through the Arts
ITA announces a groundbreaking gift of $25,000 from the Jack P. Schleifer Foundation to support creative arts therapy for low-income families.
This gift will be matched with $2,500 from the Evanston Community Foundation (ECF) as part of their Building the Future program. In late 2019, ITA was selected as one of six local organizations for this program, which supports nonprofits in increasing their base of major gift donors. ECF will provide a matching grant for up to 10 qualifying donations raised by ITA over a 12-month period.
“The goal of Building the Future is to support nonprofits in building sustainable and effective giving programs so that they can carry out their mission for years to come,” says Rebecca Cacayuran, Vice President for Community Investment at ECF. “The two-year program of cohort learning sessions and the matching challenge is designed to help staff and board leadership grow skills and confidence.”
This opportunity to support ITA inspired Natalie Schleifer, whose parents, Geraldine and Jack Schleifer fostered a love of the arts within her as a young child. Natalie became an artist herself and then an art teacher.
“While teaching art to children, I acknowledged the manifold therapeutic purposes it had. This led me to train as a psychotherapist at NYU and to investigate therapeutic strategies for teaching clay sculpture and pottery to students of all ages,” says Schleifer.
ITA has used Creative Arts Therapies for 45 years to help people to grow and heal. Serving more than 2,000 individuals annually, ITA works to ensure that finance isn’t a barrier, providing therapy at significantly reduced rates in order to make their services accessible to all who can benefit from art, dance/movement, drama, and music therapy. Their clients experience relief from symptoms related to past traumas, anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. ITA also serves a number of people with disabilities who are able to build communication skills and even improve cognitive functioning.
“Many benefit from these forms of therapy when their past experiences or current thoughts are too painful to put into words. Not everyone expresses themselves in the same way, and we need to understand how people best communicate and learn new skills. For some, music can offer an outlet for expression, and for others engaging in role play or other theatrical experiences helps them to tell their story,” says ITA Executive Director, Jenni Rook.
This mission resonated with Schleifer, who says, “When I learned of what ITA was doing to help people, I wanted to be a part of this important work. Humans need the arts for so many reasons, and we need to remember that while they bring pleasure and enjoyment, they can also bring transformation and healing for so many.”
Natalie committed to make a gift of $25,000 on behalf of the Jack P. Schleifer Foundation to support creative arts therapy for low-income families.
“Natalie’s generosity will make a difference in the lives of many people. The global pandemic has created a mental health crisis in our country in addition to increased financial hardship. We are so grateful to have Natalie and other supporters who have allowed ITA to help the people who need us most,” says Rook.