About Project Onward
Project Onward is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that seeks to promote art as a powerful tool for understanding and valuing the real and potential contributions of our national population with disabilities.
Project Onward supports the professional development of artists with exceptional talents and challenges, ranging from autism to mental illness, and provides these artists with workspace, materials, professional guidance, exhibition opportunities and access to markets to sell their work and advance their careers.
Project Onward was founded in the summer of 2004 as a Gallery 37 pilot initiative for 6 artists who had aged-out of the local youth job-training organization’s program, but due to their disabilities they had no opportunities elsewhere to advance their artistic careers.
After a successful year, the program became a part of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and moved to the Chicago Cultural Center, where it became a citywide resource and began serving artists outside of Gallery 37. The program quickly established itself and became locally recognized for the high quality of its artistic product and respected for its mission, and in 2008, the organization moved to larger quarters in the Cultural Center.
In 2013, after several years of progressive growth and increasing independence, Project Onward moved to a professional artists’ studio and gallery in the Bridgeport Art Center. After nine years as a city-led program, Project Onward began the transition to becoming an independent nonprofit. Project Onward celebrates 2019 not only as its fifteenth year as an artistic and social resource for Chicago.