Street-Level Youth Media is a state-of-the art studio, not unlike those that professionals pay big bucks in which to record. But these students get to record and produce tracks, for free.
"They taught me how to arrange music, how to produce music," said Rocio Roman.
While in high school, Roman spent most of her days after school in Street-Level Youth Media programs. She's now a freshman at the Art Institute of Chicago and hoping to turn music production into a career.
"I'm getting my bachelor's degree in audio production," she said. "This is my first year, second quarter and i think i made the right decision."
The studio is just one of the outlets for creative expression.
"Music then teacher: you can go over hear and change the volume for the individual instruments," Roman said.
Middle school students from Lozano Elementary School took a field trip learning to make music using garage band, while other young people are taking a workshop called "framing fashion."
They are essentially creating mini-documentaries expressing their views on teen fashions. Executive director Manwah Lee says the non-profit's goal is to teach youth how to use digital media to communicate their own stories to the world.
"We also want young people to think about all the issues and all the things that are happening in their lives and really create media that that tells people the things that they find important and not just use media as another form of entertainment," Lee said.
Darion Williams helped create a music video through an after school program at Roberto Clemente High School, one of about ten Chicago Public Schools where Street-Level Youth Media runs workshops. He says having free access to a high-tech multi-media center is priceless.
"It's pretty amazing because you don't see this like everywhere so to get the chance to do this, I wouldn't miss it for the world," he said.
Street-Level Youth Media is a holds quarterly showcases so the public and see the students' work.
For more information: www.street-level.org