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Making Chicago a Fifth Third Better™

Pier Profiles - Navy Pier’s Purpose-Driven Partners

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Keep reading to discover how some of Navy Pier’s partners are doing incredible things for their community and are helping make Chicago a Fifth Third Better™.

Southside Occupational Academy

This photo and the photo at the top of the page taken before COVID-19.

Southside Occupational Academy provides young adults with disabilities, ages 16-21, with educational training opportunities in areas like independent functioning, social learning and applied academics to help them gain hands-on experience at locations throughout Chicago, like Navy Pier. 

What started out as a mission to provide jobs, security, entertainment and easy transportation for students turned into something much more over the years. Through Southside Occupational Academy’s partnership with Navy Pier,  an on-site classroom and first-hand work experiences, students discover a sense of purpose and the potential for incredible future opportunities. Some program graduates have gone on to gain employment with Navy Pier partners and vendors.

Southside Occupational Academy sees their students’ abilities rather than their disabilities and gives them the chance to develop into the independent adults that they strive to be. To learn more or donate to Southside Occupational Academy, click here.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Located on the Pier, Chicago Shakespeare Theater is the city’s largest and most versatile performing arts venue known for their incredible performances of Shakespeare, musicals, world premieres, family programming, and presentations from around the globe. What many don’t know, though, is that over the course of the ongoing pandemic, Chicago Shakespeare Theater shifted to help the community in any way they could!

In March, the costume department partnered with the University of Illinois at Chicago to produce nearly 100,000 patient face masks for hospitals to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. To respond to the challenges facing schools in remote learning, Chicago Shakespeare’s education program—one of the most comprehensive and highly respected in the country—is serving thousands of students and teachers online with free digital resources and interactive programs. This year's Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks program featured nearly 170 local artists in a three-week virtual citywide tour in August. Their efforts continued in November when Chicago Shakespeare Theater hosted its first-ever Holiday Artisan Market highlighting gifts made by local artists and theater-makers impacted by pandemic with 100 percent of the proceeds going directly to supporting the makers featured.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater isn’t just spreading joy throughout the Chicagoland, though. With performances streaming virtually, audiences can enjoy events from wherever they may be. From January 12-24, they’ll be offering a limited engagement run of The Journey, an immersive, virtual theatrical event created and performed by world-renowned illusionist, mentalist, and performance artist Scott Silven. Click here to learn more.

Skills for Chicagoland’s Future

Another partner of Navy Pier making a difference is Skills for Chicagoland’s Future - an organization that seeks to create economic opportunity for Chicago’s unemployed and underemployed job seekers through matching them with businesses that have unmet hiring needs. Since last year, Skills for Chicagoland’s Future has matched Navy Pier with nearly 50 people seeking employment - from high schoolers looking to earn extra income to help support their family, to college students wanting seasonal work and adults seeking financial stability. 

Through Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, many Chicagoans find jobs and are taught tangible life skills and Navy Pier is proud to partner with an organization that’s committed to instilling confidence in those seeking employment in the community and motivating them to grow and further their career. Learn more on how you can donate to support Skills for Chicagoland’s Future here.

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About Navy Pier

More Than You Imagine

Navy Pier is the People’s Pier, Chicago’s lakefront treasure, welcoming all and offering dynamic and eclectic experiences through partnerships and programs that inspire discovery and wonder.

Since its reopening in 1995, more than 180 million guests have come to enjoy the Pier's 50 acres of unparalleled attractions and experiences. In 2020, Navy Pier continues to evolve into an accessible, year-round centerpiece for Chicago’s diverse arts and cultural treasures.


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Navy Pier

600 E. GRAND AVENUE
CHICAGOIL 60611
1-800 595-PIER (7437)

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