X Time: Giving Room with Robert Marohn

It all started when…

Giving Room is a non profit organization based in Chicago, Atlanta, New York and Los Angeles that channels the creativity of skateboarders and artists into giving back to their communities. It gives emerging artists a platform to display their work through releases of quality skateboard decks and apparel. Proceeds from each release go towards supporting the artists’ chosen organizations and/or charities.

I’ve been working on this project for the last two years and on a recent Thursday, I shared it with my colleagues at A+I as part of our X Time, a sort of “extracurriculars” forum where folks share what motivates and drives them.


In addition to the excellent guacamole and Modelo bar we had going, it was cool to share my experience working with Chicago-based Arts of Life.

Many adults in the U.S live with intellectual and developmental disabilities; in fact, an estimated one-fifth of our country’s population is disabled, with only around 18 percent of these persons being employed in 2016 (Bureau of Labor). Career and vocational resources are in short supply, particularly in Illinois, which has consistently ranked among the bottom 5 states in the nation.

As a result, many individuals with disabilities are employed in light labor, assembly, or other menial tasks. Most day programs for adults with disabilities don’t allow for a choice in the work they do, or provide professional development opportunities that allow them to master new skills. The founders of Arts of Life recognized this severe lack of opportunity for the disabled community, and, in January of 2000, began constructing an alternative model.

- Robert Marohn