I’m sure we can all agree that it’s been a year like no other. As we head into the final days of a year jam-packed with challenges, loss, and financial uncertainty, it’s worth reflecting on what we did right and looking ahead to a brighter 2021. When dealt a really bad hand, we all stepped up our game to show up for family, friends, and neighbors. 2020 might have shattered a record for the kindest and most compassionate year to date.
At IPaintMyMind, we’ve adapted and evolved to serve the new needs of our communities. We’re proud to announce that instead of faltering or taking a few steps backwards, IPMM has grown and is serving more people than ever before. To get a sense of this progress from the boots on the ground, I asked all of IPMM’s staff and board a few questions. Ahead, you’ll find highlights of the year, inspiring tales of overcoming pandemic obstacles, and some ambitious New Years Resolutions.
What do you see as IPMM’s greatest accomplishments in 2020?
“It certainly was a challenging year! I think our biggest accomplishment is that we were still able to meaningfully deliver against our mission of making art more accessible. Even though kids in Chicago haven’t been in a school building since early March, we were able to find other ways to support schools, teachers and their students — we managed to coordinate the donation of art supplies through some of our long-term community relationships, we provided tons of resources to help teachers with online learning, including a complete overhaul of our art guide to support art teachers and general education teachers, which we made accessible for free to every CPS teacher!” – Josh Hoekwater, Board Member
“I think in being forced to take a step back, we discovered a myriad of ways to tap into the resources and voices we already had at our disposal. We added some kick-ass women to our board, found new ways for artists to participate, and maintained our role as this arts education support beam for the community, even though our classic Shared Walls program looked a bit different this year.” – Kaitlyn Roberts, Digital Marketing Lead & Programs Assistant
“From my perspective, it has been great to see how resilient the organization has been in spite of the pandemic situation. Evan and the team have really been nimble and are pushing all the right buttons to help it grow.” – Jim Hourican, Accounting Director
“Although there are many specific accomplishments from IPMM this year that could be looked at, I think the most important thing the organization did in a year like no other was to stay very intentional with how it engaged community. It was a tough year where time, resources, even happiness was in short supply, and I saw Evan do a wonderful job of continuing to ask “how can IPMM add value to others?” through all of it. Asking that question in a meaningful way can be difficult for some companies, because the answer may not include continuing to sell products and services, at least at that moment in the same old ways. But in asking that question with intention this year, IPMM continued to put out resources for free, raise money for meaningful causes, and further the mission of making art accessible to all. It’s more important than ever! In dark times we don’t turn to spreadsheets and business models…we need art!” – Levi Baer, Impact Advisor
What was your favorite project to work on in your role in 2020?
“We were able to really get the Sponsor-a-School program off the ground and also were able to allow some of our clients’ employees to bring home art for a while. And, despite a major economic downturn, and many of our clients not planning to be in their offices for at least a few more months, most of our corporate clients demonstrated their commitment to our mission by renewing their art subscriptions or committing resources to our Sponsor-a-School program instead.” – Josh Hoekwater, Board Member
“My favorite project to work on was creating the IPaintMyMind Arts Education Curriculum Guide. It was a labor of love to go through and revamp the curriculum guide to fit the needs of current classroom art teachers. I believe Evan and I really created something that everyone could use and I highlighted diverse artists and projects for everyone to use during remote learning as well as in person learning. “ – Roxy Piersanti, Board Member and Teacher at Northwest Middle School
“I took a lot of pride in working on our first series of Arts Education Curriculum & Resource Guides. We created this incredible way to distribute art experiences from a distance for parents and teachers scrambling to piece together e-Learning this year. It turned out to be such a cool and empowering resource.” – Kaitlyn Roberts, Digital Marketing Lead & Programs Assistant
“Evan and I worked on a really exciting project to infuse a lens of equity into IPaintMyMind’s strategic plan. First of all, we had a great foundation to start from, since IPMM’s work has always been about equity; recognizing where people are at and building with them. I appreciate how we were able to pause and take a really honest look at where there were opportunities to strengthen IPMM’s commitment to equity and justice even more. This is going to come alive in 2021 and beyond with projects like specific goals for representation in the art collection (which is already incredibly diverse and reflective of the Chicago community!), updated hiring policies, plans for community engagement and uplift, and more. All of which prioritizes working alongside Black, Latino/a/x, Asian, and other BIPOC communities.” – Levi Baer, Impact Advisor
“My “favorite project” has actually just been taking over a lot of the numbers-oriented activities that Evan (Founder and Executive Director of IPMM) had previously been handling. I feel that has really freed him up to be even more energetic and creative. At the same time I’ve streamlined some processes and procedures, so the back end is more rock solid.” – Jim Hourican, Accounting Director
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