Chicago FAME Center gives children the gift of music, art and theater lessons

A Chicago woman is hitting a high note with local kids, giving them the gift of the arts.  

"[I] just really felt compelled to offer opportunities and music education to students in underserved communities that didn't have the same opportunities that I had," said FAME Center founder Sheila Fortson.  

Since its inception in 2018, the FAME Center has gifted 1,500 Chicago students with art instruction, most attend public schools.  

The year-round program offers instruction in music, visual and digital art, theater, creative writing and art therapy.  

Fortson shared a story of a young boy who yearned to play the saxophone. The center didn’t have a saxophone instructor, so they went out and found one. The child ended up being a prodigy in the saxophone and went on to participate in other local band programs. Other young participants have grown to receive scholarships in the arts.  

Last year, the FAME Center provided $43,000 in financial aid to Chicago students to attend the program. Student Mikala Davis learned to play the violin and also takes part in art therapy, which she said helps her cope with the sudden loss of her father.  

"It helps me with positively expressing my feelings in different ways because a lot of children don't get to do that ," Davis said.  

"Art and music education engages both sides of a child's brain," added Fortson  "It helps them with language skills, it helps them build self-discipline, it helps them build self-confidence, it's character building."  

The FAME Center is accepting used instrument donations as well as financial aid to help other students realize their talents.  For more information, log onto