We are very pleased to present Intonation’s three-year Strategic Plan for 2021 – 2023. The planning process presented an opportunity for our staff, board, and partners to reflect on the current state of the organization while exploring our future.

Being responsive to the youth that we serve is the driving force of Intonation. This plan clarifies how we will carry out our commitment to the youth as they engage in Intonation music education programming from childhood through adolescence.

The five priorities that emanated from the planning process will provide the focus necessary to realize Intonation’s growth, sustainability, and social impact over the next three years. The accompanying goals and action steps created will be reviewed and updated each year resulting in a plan that is both actionable and measurable.

We would not have completed this plan without the input of our dedicated supporters who graciously agreed to be interviewed; parents and students that participated in focus groups and Board members and staff that completed online surveys. We appreciate you all.

Irene Fogelson, Committee Chair & Board Vice President

Brian Black, Board President

Michael Simons, Founder and Executive Director


We envision a world in which the voices of young people are amplified and valued through the power of making music.


Intonation works with the youth of Chicago to experience making music on their own terms, leading to personal growth and the enrichment of their communities.


strategic priorities

Immerse ourselves in and hold ourselves accountable to the community we serve.

Lead with creativity, imagination, and resourcefulness in music programming and organizational growth.

Effectively communicate our identity and mission to both internal and external stakeholders.

Develop and strengthen systems, policies, and talent to ensure organizational resilience.

Optimize program impact through reflection and refinement of curriculum, student retention, assessment & data collection, and instructor professional development


1. Implement inclusive and culturally relevant systems for ongoing feedback from community stakeholders.

2. Create an accessibility and inclusion plan including cultural competency training for staff and Board.

3. Establish a Community Engagement Department to launch a plan informed by the music and culture of Bronzeville with input from stakeholders.

4. Prioritize youth voice in decision-making to inform program and organizational growth.


1. Establish a culture that fosters and rewards continuous learning, creative leadership and professional growth for the organization and our programs.


1. Create an organizational messaging and style guide informed by our mission, core values, strategic priorities, and honor the culture and musical interests of the youth we serve.

2. Define channels of external communication for all stakeholders, align accompanying strategies, and track results and progress through clear metrics.

3. Increase awareness in Greater Bronzeville through a strategy responsive to the community’s culture and programming interests.


1. Invest in staff growth and leadership development; and create a succession plan for every level of the organization.

2. Develop and implement systems that foster accountability, role clarity, and maximize impact.

3. Grow, strengthen, and diversify and better economize funding sources to ensure financial stability.

4. Optimize resources, refine financial practices in service of environmental and fiscal responsibility.


1. Design and implement sustainable assessment and registration systems informed by previous tools and processes.

2. Refine, create, and document situation- and youth-responsive music education curriculum focusing on virtual learning, instrument ownership, digital literacy, artist development, and career exploration.

3. Establish benchmarks and systems to set and track goals around student retention, to be integrated with new registration system and informed by ongoing program delivery model and recruitment strategy refinement.