Music, art and advocacy: Sleep In to benefit 13 youth homeless agencies Feb. 24


Chicago’s youth-serving homeless agencies, shelters and drop-in centers will benefit from the Out in the Open Sleep In Friday night, Feb. 24 in Chicago’s South Loop. Thirteen non-profits will come together for a night of advocacy and fundraising at 2nd Presbyterian Church, 1936 S. Michigan Avenue.

 More than 20,000 young adults and students are looking for a permanent home, not just overnight shelter.

 The event will feature music and art, with speeches by youth who have experienced housing instability. New work by artist Erik R. Sosa will be for sale, with 100% of proceeds being split among the nonprofits.

This is the second event raising funds for these agencies. The first was held during a blizzard in November 2015, and raised more than $44,000.

The event works like other pledge-related events. People sign up for teams that select which agency they are raising funds for. Individuals can join any team to benefit any of the partner agencies. Team names should also include the beneficiary agency. Team members sleep in overnight at the church, in the gym and other spaces.

Chicago-based rapper Taylor Bennett, who is releasing his new album the same date, has created a team to raise funds for three South Side-serving youth agencies.

This year, the event is also able to accommodate satellite events anywhere, with people creating their own event in the city or suburbs, and selecting which agencies to raise funds for. This is perfect for schools, religious organizations or families to build their own Sleep In and be part of the benefit, connecting through live social media posts during that evening.

During the 7-10 p.m. program, attendees will hear from individual youth and participate in a variety of activities. There will also be dozens of entertainers performing during the event, including Melo Makes Music, Lucy Smith, Jess Godwin, Sonny Apollo, Yohan Stevenson, Alma Mendoza, Sami Grisafe, and on the church’s beautiful organ, University of Chicago student Chelsie Coren. Poet e. nina jay will read from her work.

Fawzia Mirza, fresh off MC-ing the 250,000-strong Women’s March on Chicago, will serve as MC, along with NBC Chicago’s LeeAnn Trotter.

In addition to youth of lived experience, there will be three special guest political speakers: Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, Illinois state Rep. Juliana Stratton and Chicago Ald. Pat Dowell.

This year’s partner agencies are: The 750 Club Apartment Adoption Project, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Broadway Youth Center of Howard Brown Health, Center on Halsted, Chicago Youth Storage Initiative, El Rescate, La Casa Norte, LYTE Collective, New Moms, The Night Ministry, Pride Action Tank, Teen Living Programs and Unity Parenting.

The event is hosted by Pride Action Tank, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Edelman, agencyEA, Windy City Times newspaper, Second Presbyterian Church, along with a wide range of other partners.

To donate or sign up for this event as well as to learn more about individual teen's stories, please visit .

To volunteer or for information on team signups, contact Jackie Thaney:

For information on sponsorships, email Tracy Baim, .

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New art by Erik R. Sosa on display at Sleep In Feb. 24


“No Paint Left Behind,” a one-night art exhibition of new paintings by Erik R. Sosa will be unveiled Friday, Feb. 24 at the Second Presbyterian Church, 1936 S. Michigan Ave. in Chicago. It is part of the 2nd Out in the Open Sleep In to benefit 13 homeless agencies seeing youth.

          Sosa is a self-taught Mexican-American artist, born in Mexico City and raised in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. Today, he lives with his partner of 15 years and two adopted children in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

          The Feb. 24 opening is 5 to 8 p.m., with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the non-profit agencies. The opening reception will feature music from the Chicago subway a cappella group, The Remedy, and a first look at the exciting new work by Sosa. The Out in the Open Sleep In program starts at 7 p.m. While the Sleep In is open to registered participants at, the show portion is open to all for a $20 donation.

          “No Paint Left Behind” is a kaleidoscope of paintings, ranging in form and style, that uses all of the acrylic paint coming from the tubes. When mounting an exhibition, Sosa feels each show offers him the unique opportunity to create an atmosphere with his canvases serving as the background to inspire the audience. His past work has been compared to Kandinsky, Harring and Pollock, but Sosa’s new exhibition showcases his own unique style by creating 3D acrylic floral images.

          “As an abstract expressionist, I don’t define myself to any one particular style,” said Sosa. “I’m continually inspired from all directions of life.” Through his combination of bright colors, geometric designs, organic shapes and/or free-hand motion, Sosa produces an art style that is fresh and vibrant. “I never really know what I’ll be painting or creating,” says Sosa. “You could say each canvas starts of as a page in a coloring book. After a while, unused paint starts to dry and in turn I use those bits and pieces to create 3D floral images.”   

          Sosa’s passion for art is carried over to his passion of supporting the non-profit community. In the past he has donated pieces of work to benefit such diverse organizations as Center on Halsted, Victor C. Neumann Association, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Vital Bridges, Spanish Coalition for Jobs and Heartland, to name just a few. 

          Sosa earned the coveted VOX/Out Emerging Voices of Style + Design award this year. To commemorate its fifth year, VOX and Out will be honoring artists and designers who are just beginning to establish a name for themselves . The first of five honorees nationwide, Sosa will receive the VOX/Out Emerging Voices of Style + Design Award at Sidetrack Chicago July 27.   

          For more information about Erik R. Sosa, his work, and upcoming exhibition visit