Riot Fest is an independently-owned music festival hosted annually in September. Since 2015, Riot Fest has called Douglass Park its home. We value community, and we want our neighbors to feel that Riot Fest is not only something they can take part in, but also be proud of.
Year-round Community Initiatives
Each year Riot Fest attendees have a chance to earn their tickets by volunteering to help with Douglass Park cleanups.
Tickets for North Lawndale Residents
If you live within 4 blocks of Douglass Park, you can register for free tickets to Riot Fest every year!
Community Job Fair
Every year, Riot Fest hires hundreds of people from the local community to work at the grounds during the festival weekend.
Winter Clothing Drives & Donations
Hosted annual winter clothing drives directly benefitting the Douglass Park community, including the “Share The Warmth” coat drives with Douglass Park Advisory Council which date back to 2017.
We’ve donated festival tickets to hundreds of fundraisers for a variety of causes throughout Chicago, contributed to toy, clothing, & food drives, as well as donating to local schools, not-for-profits, and organizations supporting Chicago + Douglass Park.
A recurring segment in the RiotFest.org Magazine that highlights hardworking neighborhood businesses. Above: The Bee Love Cafe Community Spotlight.
NLCP Trivia Night 2023
Riot Fest donated a Customized Trivia Game package to 2023 North Lawndale College Prep Trivia Night: a fundraiser supporting their wraparound services.
Riot Fest Foundation donated Riot Fest tickets to the silent auction at the same event.
Book Drive for CYC in North Lawndale
Currently hosting our first book drive which will benefit the youth at CYC-Sidney Epstein Youth Center. March 11th through April 1st, we are collecting new/gently used books for ages 8-17 yrs. All genres welcome; including PG-rated graphic/comic novels, & manga. Click for drop off locations.
Little Free Libraries
We are installing Little Free Libraries in the community. There will be one at the Hammond Community Garden soon and we are working on 2-3 other neighborhood locations!
A Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book” free book exchange.
Harmony Community Cares Received Grant
The Riot Fest Foundation awarded a grant to HCC’s Community Arts program which provides valuable arts education to children and teens in North Lawndale and surrounding areas. Arts education is important for fostering creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
Community Involvement Highlights
- Each year, Riot Fest partners with the community to host a local job fair, which, over the years has employed over 1,100 community members at the festival, resulting in over $300,000 of economic impact in Douglass Park. Positions are available in various departments including, but not limited to, general labor, information services, event set-up/tear-down, gate attendants, and more.
- In addition to job fairs, Riot Fest also offers community ticket registration which provides complimentary entry to residents living near the park, as well as for employees of the adjacent hospitals. Providing over 5,000 community members and organizations access to the event.
- For community causes around the city, Riot Fest has donated thousands of tickets to fundraisers put on by local organizations and not-for-profit organizations. We’ve hosted week long and single day merch fundraisers with all proceeds going to a variety of causes that directly affect people living in the surrounding community.
- Since 2010, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless has been the official charity partner of Riot Fest. Over the years, this partnership has helped raise more than $150,000 through various fundraising events, including raffling off autographed albums, guitars, t-shirts, and memorabilia contributed by festival performers.
- In May 2022, Riot Fest Foundation contributed to the North Lawndale Employment Network to support their 2022 Job Fair. The North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN) serves under- and unemployed residents of the North Lawndale neighborhood and surrounding communities, including citizens returning from incarceration and others facing the day-to-day hardships of living without enough income to support themselves and their families.
- Every Thanksgiving, Riot Fest donates turkeys to families in need in the surrounding communities around Douglass Park including families from Little Village and McKinley Park.
- In 2022, partial ticket fees from the Riot Fest Late Night Aftershows were donated to Douglass Park community organizations Lawndale Community Academy and the CYC-Sidney Epstein Youth Center.
- In December 2022, Riot Fest donated hundreds of toys to Saucedo Elementary in Little Village as a part of their Toy Giveaway with the 24th ward.
- Riot Fest staff members volunteered at the Harmony Community Cares Food Pantry on March 15th, 2023 and we plan to make this a recurring event.
- Partners with A Safe Haven Foundation for their annual 5K Run to End Homelessness. Proceeds support the foundation’s mission to help and guide the local community members experiencing homelessness.
- The festival welcomes local food vendors, offering discounted booths within festival grounds, and gives priority to local restaurants when purchasing meals and fulfilling hospitality riders for artists and crew. Riot Fest has also promoted and amplified local businesses and restaurants surrounding the festival each year.
- Local Not-For-Profits and organizations receive donated booth space at the festival, so they can raise funds and promote their mission to the tens of thousands of Riot Fest attendees at the festival.
- Partnered with Sing-Me-A-Story and both community hospitals in a music program that takes children in different programs in the hospitals to write a song with one of the festival bands records at an onsite studio during the festival. Riot Fest management has also devoted some time to mentor kids and give them an inside look at operations and set- up of venue, and day of show reveal.
- Partnered with WKQX 101.1 radio station for their You Give and You Get program. Recruited volunteers for the All Chicago – YPN Ikea build out. Volunteers helped put together furniture, which was then donated and delivered to 20 families experiencing homelessness who received a new apartment/home from All Chicago. In return for their time, they received complimentary Riot Fest passes.
- Supported the National Museum of Mexican Art for their 2022 Gala de Arte. This event is critical in generating funding to support the museum.
- Merch fundraiser held in 2021 and 2022 for Brave Space Alliance. The first Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ+ Center located on the South Side of Chicago and designed to create and provide affirming and culturally competent services for the entire LGBTQ+ community of Chicago.
- Donated to True Star Foundation for ‘From The Go Fest.’ True Star donation provides over 500 Chicago youth with after-school and summer apprenticeship programs annually, giving teens an opportunity to learn new skills and training of different professions.
- Riot Fest participates in and donates to the community’s annual bike drive that promotes health and positive actions in the community. Also donated supplies to and participated in the Bike the Boulevard event last summer.
Community Youth + Sports Highlights
- Partnered with the Chicago Fire FC to bring their “Soccer in the Community” program to local youth free of charge to Douglass Park + North Lawndale residents.
- Riot Fest Foundation supplied grants to America SCORES Chicago, which helped fund their after school programming at local schools called Literacy in Action, a free after school initiative that integrates soccer, poetry, and public service education.
- Partnership with North Lawndale Eagles football team to help support their annual football banquet and sports team. The North Lawndale Eagles football team provides at-risk youth with a safe outlet for physical fitness and team-building skills.
- Coordinated a field trip to the Chicago White Sox baseball game for the kids of Douglass Park Summer Program.
- Coordinated and donated to annual Holiday Drives for toys, coats, clothing and household supplies which directly benefit the children and families of the Douglass Park and surrounding communities.
- Funded special recreation programming at Douglass Park with DPAC.
- Funded program and partnership between North Lawndale College Prep and Free Spirit Media to educate students on music business, film and photography
- Supports local Back to School Festival, where book bags and school supplies are provided for students free of cost.
- Funded after school guitar lessons program for students at Hammond Elementary.
- Funded a pilot music program at Our Lady of Tepeyac Elementary School
- Organized meet-and-greets with local students and festival artists such as Ice Cube & Psalm One
- Invited and collected on-site skateboard donations for local organization, froSkate. froSkate exists to provide inclusive experiences, resources and equity for BIPOC, non-traditional skateboarding community.