The Youth Empowerment Performance Project ( YEPP ) presented its inaugural annual fundraiser, "Rise Up: A Celebration of Resilience" at Chicago Theater Works on Nov. 14. The event also acknowledged the Transgender Day of Remembrance as well as November being National Runaway and Homeless Month.
YEPP ensemble members largely curated the fundraiser, which featured testimonials and spoken word and dance performances as well as a DJ, a buffet, a cash bar and a photo booth. Among the performances were dance segments featuring Antonio Gray and Malia with spoken pieces by Sticky Buns, Angelina Nordstrom, Gray, Cheyenne Butler and Levi Perez.
The program also featured a special "Say Her Name" segment that acknowledged transgender individuals who were the victims of violence in the past year. YEPP board members Bonsai Bermudez, Pheonix Forbes and Avi Bowie also took the stage while LaTony Alvarado-Rivera emceed.
YEPP is a yearly performance group designed to provide a safe environment for LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. Through workshops, panels and performances, YEPP investigates new ways to address members' struggles and celebrate their strengths through self, leadership and community development. While ensemble members participate in the program, YEPP supports them with resources such as housing, employment, education, legal aid, health, food, transportation and other basic needs.