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Hands On! Children's Art Museum

Executive Summary

Hands On! Children’s Art Museum of Chicago, (Hands On!) is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Hands On! is being formed to provide unique and meaningful arts programming for all children, to educate children in the arts, and to build a lifelong audience for the arts. We plan to offer a dynamic and constantly-evolving program. Although we will incorporate all of the fine arts into our programs, our focus is on visual art. Most activities will be open-ended and enjoyed on a walk-in basis. The Museum will be staffed by working artists, and all structured activities will be led by master artist-teachers.

The Arts Education Partnership, in conjunction with the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, commenced a study last year to examine the impact of arts experiences on young people and to explore why and how young people were changed through their arts experiences. Evidence demonstrates that children with high levels of arts participation outperform “arts-poor” students by virtually every measure. This study, Champions of Change, found much evidence that learning in the arts helps develop habits that will support other disciplines, and that it can often reach at-risk students when other disciplines cannot. The arts provide young people with authentic learning experiences that engage their minds, hearts, and bodies. Arts education helps students learn; it can enhance creativity, self-discipline, and the skills and confidence necessary to meet the challenges encountered during their lives.

The three founding board members, all of whom are mothers of young children, are uniquely qualified to bring this project to fruition. Karolyn Kuehner, Executive Director, holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Pedagogy and a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy, with highest honors, from Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University. In addition, she served as Lecturer in Piano at Roosevelt University for over 10 years, and has also served on the piano faculties at Concordia University and Elmhurst College. Ms. Kuehner received the D.H. Baldwin Fellowship in recognition of her contributions to piano pedagogy and is listed in the book, Who’s Who in American Music. Ms. Kuehner is an active Brownie Troop leader with the Girl Scouts of Chicago and is an advocate for homeschooling. She was a guest on Educate! on Channel 20, and Medill Reports at Northwestern University. Interviews with Ms. Kuehner have appeared in Chicago Parent and the Homeschooling Link.

Sheri Jendra, Operations Director, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Administration, and a Master of Public Administration degree from Governors State University. She was formerly employed as the Housing Director at the Beverly Area Planning Association, a non-for-profit community organization. She has also served as Assistant Planner for the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission. Ms. Jendra is active as a volunteer in many capacities at St. Barnabas Catholic Church and Elementary School, and in a variety of youth sports activities.

Nancy McGourty, Marketing Director, holds a Bachelor of Science in Commerce degree with a major in Marketing from DePaul University. Previous employment includes the position of Assistant Vice President/Marketing at Founders Bank, Economic Development Director for the Beverly Area Planning Association, and Marketing Officer in the Corporate and Institutional Banking group at First Chicago Bank. Ms. McGourty is active in the Beverly/Morgan Park community as a director of the Southwest Beverly Improvement Association, and as a volunteer at Sutherland Elementary School, St. Barnabas Catholic Church, and the AYSO.

In addition to the founding board members, our Board of Directors is comprised of a diverse group of individuals including Grammy Award winning composer and pianist Ramsey Lewis, Michael  Friedman, CEO of Premonition Records, James Lindsey, CPA with TTX Company, and Paul Tuminaro, Chicago-based arts advocate and member of the NewGroup Board at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

We are seeking funding for initial start-up costs to be used for legal costs, leasehold improvements, rent and related expenses, office equipment, furniture, starting inventory, and initial cash to handle the first few months of expenses.

We estimate that approximately 60% of Hands On!’s annual revenue will be generated by a combination of membership, admissions, programming, retail sales, and related activities. The remainder of our funding will be generated by:

  • The writing of proposals to secure grants from foundations.
  • The solicitation of individuals, corporations, and small businesses.
  • An annual large-scale benefit concert, family benefits, and special events.
  • A variety of small scale fundraising activities.


Hands On!‘s objectives during the first year of business are:

  • To generate earned revenue from a combination of membership and admission fees, programming, outreach, retail sales, and special events.
  • To secure new funding sources including foundation grants, government grants, and private and corporate donations.
  • To have 375 total paid memberships.
  • To serve 1,500 children through our outreach programs.


The mission of Hands On! is to encourage children of all ages to develop their full creative potential through the visual and performing arts. Hands On! strives, through the fine arts, to create a unique environment in which children of all ages, abilities, and experience can feel free to imagine, create, and welcome the arts into their lives. Hands On! provides a professional work environment that is challenging, rewarding, creative, and respectful of ideas and individuals.

Keys to Success

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