Noah's Arc Foundation
Noah's Arc Foundation
Helping children develop a stronger sense of self

Rock Your Drop on the Block

with After School Matters

Uniting youth through arts programming & peace awareness inspired by the Drop of Consciousness to create positive change in our communities


Save the Date

August 2, 2018

Noah’s Arc Foundation and After School Matters unite forces to inspire peace in Chicago communities through arts programming and the Drop of Consciousness movement. With both organizations’ deep connection to the city of Chicago, its communities and its youth, the Rock Your Drop on the Block event provides a platform for Chicago’s youth to have their voices heard. Youth draw inspiration from the pillars of Noah’s Arc as well as the Drop of Consciousness to develop visual and performance art that will be showcased at the Rock Your Drop on the Block event as well as peace flags that will be carried by hundreds of youth and community members as they march to the event.

Throughout the summer teens participating in the arts programming throughout the city of Chicago will be discussing, reflecting, and creating artwork that is influenced by the pillars of Noah’s Arc including awareness, consciousness, unity, and gratitude as well as the Drop of Consciousness movement for peace.

Rock Your Drop on the Block is the vision of Noah's Arc Foundation Co-Founder and President Cecilia Rodhe. Read more about her lifelong career using art to help change the world featured in Haute Living.

Director: Michael Abt
Editor: David Bryen Original
Music: Carlos Cotelo
Camera: Darryl Roberts & Michael Abt

First Name *
First Name

Master Class Speaker Series


To further enhance the summer program experience for our teens, Noah's Arc Foundation invites extraordinary individuals to share their story and how they spread peace through their work as part of the Master Class Speaker Series. By introducing teens to leaders from all fields ranging from politics to surgical medicine, our goal is to open their minds to a wide range of possibilities and expand their world view of what’s possible for them in life. Additionally, we hope that this experience will strengthen their voice for peace and positive change as they hear from masters of art in various forms and the story of how they became who they are today.


Dr. enrico Benedetti, Head of Surgery at UIC

Dr. Enrico Benedetti is a transplant surgeon at UI Health. Dr. Benedetti is a prominent leader in organ transplantation and in the use of robotic-assisted techniques in transplantation. He has to his credit many successful surgical firsts, including the first robotic donor nephrectomy for a living-donor kidney transplant, the first combined living-donor liver and bowel transplant from an adult to an infant, the first robotic combined kidney and pancreas procurement for a living-donor transplant, and the largest series of living-donor intestinal transplants in the world. Dr. Benedetti is Professor and Head of Surgery and the Warren H. Cole Chair in Surgery.


Justine Fedak, SVP Brand, Advertising and Sponsorships, North America at BMO Financial Group

Justine is the Senior Vice President and Head of Brand, Advertising and Sponsorships for BMO Financial Group, North America. In this role, she is responsible for brand strategy and advertising across North America and all sponsorships for the BMO Financial Group.

After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2001, Justine worked hard to recover her mobility in order to train for and run a half marathon in 2009. Although she is no longer able to run, she continues to be an advocate for healthy living. She is a regular speaker across the US and Canada at Marketing, Branding and Communications conferences; and she is often called upon by the media to speak about living with MS.

Fedak earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of Toronto and an MBA from Dalhousie University. She is a member of the Board of Directors of The Magnificent Mile Association, Gilda’s Club Chicago, and Access Living; is on the Executive Committee of the Chicago Sports Commission, and is a regular contributor to the Chicago Sun-Times “Splash” column. Justine is Chairperson to the Municipal Marketing Advisory Council for the City of Chicago. Justine is honored to be the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s 2013 “Woman on the Move”; and the Chicago Business Journal’s 2015 Women of Influence.


Alex Kotlowitz, award-winning journalist and author

Alex Kotlowitz is the author of three books, including the national bestseller There Are No Children Here, which the New York Public Library selected as one of the 150 most important books of the twentieth century. It received the Helen Bernstein Award, the Carl Sandburg Award and a Christopher Award, and was adapted as a television movie produced by and starring Oprah Winfrey. It was selected as a Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times.

The Other Side of the River received The Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize and the Great Lakes Booksellers Award for Nonfiction, and was also selected as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times which said of the book, “It’s important, essential even, for the rest of us to contemplate.” Of Never a City So Real, one critic wrote, “It’s a fine successor to Nelson Algren’s Chicago: City on the Make as a song to our rough-and-tumble, broken-nosed city.”

Alex’s documentary The Interrupters (a collaboration with Steve James) premiered at Sundance in January 2011, and aired as a two-hour special on PBS’s Frontline. It was cited as one of the best films of the year by The New Yorker, The Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly and The LA Times. One reviewer wrote, “It tears at your heart…and makes you believe that change is possible.” The film received an Emmy, an Independent Spirit Award and a Cinema Eye Award.  
A former staff writer at The Wall Street Journal, Alex has long been a regular contributor to The New York Times Magazine and public radio’s This American Life. His stories, which one reviewer wrote “inform the heart”, have also appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Rolling Stone, The Chicago Tribune, Slate and The Washington Post, as well as on PBS (Frontline, the MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour and Media Matters) and on NPR’s All Things Considered and Morning Edition. He’s been honored in all three mediums, including some of journalism’s major prizes: a George Foster Peabody Award (radio), the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award (print),  the George Polk Award (television) and (twice) a Columbia duPont Award (radio and television.)  His play An Unobstructed View (co-authored with Amy Drozdowska) premiered in Chicago in June of 2005.
About his work, one critic wrote, “Kotlowitz is an omnivorous observer, discerning listener, and unassuming witness to urban life.”
Alex has been a Distinguished Visitor at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and is the recipient of eight honorary degrees and the John LaFarge Memorial Award for Interracial Justice given by New York’s Catholic Interracial Council. He regularly gives lectures and talks around the country. He’s taught at the University of Chicago, the University of Notre Dame and Dartmouth College, and is currently a writer-in-residence and senior lecturer at Northwestern University where he’s been teaching since 1999.

Alex grew up in New York City and attended Wesleyan University. After a year-long stint on a cattle ranch, he took his first journalism job at a small alternative weekly in Lansing, Michigan.

He lives just outside Chicago with his wife, Maria Woltjen, who directs the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, and their two children, Mattie and Lucas.

Instructor Resources

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program overview

This resource helps summarize the key pieces of the Rock Your Drop on the Block initiative including the mission, program overview, and the four pillars. We encourage instructors to keep this document as a reference piece throughout the initiative.


instructor presentation

We have prepared an instructor presentation to use when introducing the initiative and the Soul Peace Flag Project to teens. The presentation includes pictures, videos, and other interactive content. Talking points are included in the speaker notes along with Noah's Tips and Noah's Questions to help guide conversation.

presentation talking points

Don't need the presentation but still want use our talking points? We have consolidated all of the information in this handy resource. Page 1 is a high-level overview and subsequent pages go into greater detail including bios, program information, as well as helpful Noah's Tips and Noah's Questions from the presentation.

The Pillars



First we want to help bring awareness to the students themselves by not telling them what to do but listening to them. We want to help them to be aware of their surroundings as well as their place in those surroundings. It is also important that they learn how cause and effect are acutely present at all times, meaning how different types of energy affect the result of a situation. We want to help young people to be aware of their power, their fragilities and strengths, the polarization of good and bad, empty and full, helping and breaking, empathy and ignorance. Through the art, allow them to get in touch with that voice that is their own.


This pillar aims to help young people find solutions through their awareness and to apply consciousness to the program and also to life outside of the program to be able to make the right choice of how to handle situations, opening to learning, and to get beyond ignorance by not knowing. Consciousness is essential as it is the bottom line of how we choose how to react to, be part of, and have a key role in what’s happening around us.


The unity pillar helps ground the idea that you are not alone. It is important to discuss the fear of not daring to truly express your own feelings of not being alone and that it is also looked at through the art. We want to allow young people to discover the power of a group for the good and the bad, and how being united together fighting for a common goal as well as the feeling of protection from being in a group can create great strength and a sense of security. The diverse knowledge, strength, and skills brought into a group can change the world.


The gratitude part of this initiative is the pillar that makes everything else possible. Without gratitude, there is no growth, love, empathy, or advancement. This pillar is the staple of how mindset, attitude, application of thought and energy are essential. The energy of gratitude fills the power of creativity. The fact that we are the artists of our own lives with the energy that we put into it and how we fill our days. This pillar is really about depicting what we are grateful for in our lives and bringing awareness to that. The energy of gratitude opens doors, creates friendships, makes life fuller, and brings meaning to almost everything.

Soul Peace Flag Project


Join Us in Creating Your Soul Peace Flag!

All After School Matters programs that are part of the Rock Your Drop on the Block initiative are encouraged to join us in creating your own Soul Peace Flags to wave in our Peace March kicking off the event on August 3, 2017.

Please use the form on the right to schedule your visit and create your flags.

Questions? Contact your After School Matters program specialist.


Not part of the initiative but want to create a Soul Peace Flag? Check back for an instruction guide coming soon!

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