The Riot Fest Foundation was formed by Riot Fest Corporation in 2014 in an effort to give back to under-served communities in Chicago. Although still in its early stages of operations, the RFF is the result of an idea that’s been in the works for several years. In order to put our story into context, one must first understand the force that made this all possible—where it all began—and that’s with the birth of Riot Fest music festival.
The roots of our philanthropic vision can be traced back to November of 2006, when festival founders united the Chicagoland music community with a single-venue, day-long concert rooted in a collective passion for punk rock music. At first, their mission was simple: to put on a memorable show with a few of their favorite punk bands in their Chicago hometown. As time went on, they started booking bigger bands, their fan network grew, and they spread out to multiple venues, making them an integral perpetuating force within the Chicago punk subculture. Before long, it was apparent that Riot Fest had grown too large to be contained in a few small venues—it was time to take things outside.
In 2012, Riot Fest expanded to Denver and Toronto and found its permanent home in Humboldt Park—a park within a beautiful Chicago community rich in history, soul and culture. This decision was largely fueled by the fact that Humboldt was (and still is) home to the festival organizers, whose main goal was to bring something to their neighborhood. Something that people could be proud of and take part in, all while staying true to their mission of adding onto the punk rock legacy. While festival founders, Mike Petryshyn and Sean McKeough, have always engaged in charitable efforts (such as donating over $20,000 to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, donating turkeys to families in need during the holidays and holding instrument drives for children’s music programs) they couldn’t help but feel that they could be doing more. They wanted to do something that would have an enduring positive impact on the communities they had come to know and love. Three outdoor festivals later, the Riot Fest Foundation was born.
Riot Fest Corporation formed the RFF to effect positive change and foster the development of arts programs in underserved schools and communities. In its first year, charitable efforts will be largely focused to the Douglas Park locale, with the intention of eventually expanding to other locations. For 10 years, the power of punk rock music has united friends, fans, families, and musicians in ways Riot Fest had never originally imagined possible. Now, it’s time to harness that same power and use it as a catalyst for positive change. With the creation of the Riot Fest Foundation, our aim is to bring together artists, fans and communities through art, music and philanthropy.