Navy Pier, as a nonprofit organization, serves all of Chicagoland and provides more than 250 free arts and culture programs annually. More than 600 individual artists and 100 arts organizations from across the city collaborate with Navy Pier to produce these year-round programs and benefit from the world-class performance platform they provide.
Navy Pier also employs nearly 500 part‐time or seasonal Guest Experience team members to support these and its many other efforts. The Guest Experience team is primarily composed of young adults (16‐24 years old) who come to the Pier from neighborhoods throughout Chicago’s West and South sides. This team works constantly to ensure that each one of Navy Pier’s more than 8 million annual guests can enjoy everything the Pier has to offer.
As part of our mission, Navy Pier aspires to make Chicago an equitable place for all through community engagement, cultural programming, and employment opportunities in an iconic public space that is at once safe, unifying, and diverse. Navy Pier strives to integrate arts with local economic and community development, and it focuses on partnering with local organizations to meet community needs.
In 2019, through funding support from a local foundation and a partnership with Skills for Chicagoland’s Future (SCF)—an organization designed to close the workforce skills gap and create economic opportunity for Chicago’s un- and underemployed— Navy Pier established meaningful workforce development workshops with a First Employer Pilot Program. Navy Pier and SCF developed this program to equip employees with the talents and resources necessary for their future success. The workshops’ focus included lessons in career exploration, guidance to alternative employment pathways, financial literacy, and the job readiness curriculum.
An essential component of this program’s goals is to enhance and enrich all of Navy Pier’s young employees’ working experience through professional development opportunities. The successful program better informed the participants about teamwork, financial management, problem-solving, and effective communication.
The workforce development program demonstrates Navy Pier’s commitment to community engagement and creating equitable initiatives that contribute to the future prosperity of Chicago’s young people.
Funding is vital for the continuation of this and all of Navy Pier’s other free public arts programs. Donations and continued public support forward our mission and improve the lives of hundreds of young people, artists, and arts organizations throughout the City of Chicago.