The CineCares Foundation
In 2011, Nick Mirkopoulos transformed what was a 50-acre industrial lot in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago into what is today – the largest sound stage for film in the U.S. outside of California. Movie and TV shows filmed here, including Chicago Fire, Chicago PD and Empire, have brought thousands of jobs to North Lawndale and over a billion dollars of revenue to our city and state.
In 2014, Nick’s family established the CineCares Foundation in his honor. His love for Chicago and his generous, devoted attention to disadvantaged youth and their families coalesced into a strong desire to make a real difference in their lives by making industry-focused resources available to them. CineCares is now devoted to training and employing area residents through education and job training in TV & Film.
Cinespace Film Studios was founded 25 years ago as the first large-scale movie facility in Canada, where it was located in Toronto, and has since opened a location in Chicago.
The late Nikolaos “Nick” Mirkopoulos (1942-2013) was the visionary for Cinespace Toronto, Canada and Cinespace Chicago. He was a man of multiple talents best known for his generosity. Nick was a giant of a man who lost his battle with cancer in late 2013.
Nick was trained as an electrician in his native Greece, but his vision exceeded the parameters of his training when he opened Cinespace in Toronto. Nick’s studio was the location for Chicago, which won the Best Picture Oscar in 2005 and is the only film shot in Canada that has won that award.
Nick ventured to Chicago in May 2011, where he transformed a 50-acre industrial lot into the largest sound stage for film in the United States outside of California. In doing so, he brought new business to Illinois and put thousands of people to work on the West Side of Chicago, one of the city’s most economically challenged areas.
Scholarships & Internships
Mirkopoulos Internship Program (MIP)
The CineCares Foundation works with companies on the campus of Cinespace Chicago Film Studios to identify internship opportunities for local residents between the ages of 18-26. All applicants must have a high school diploma or GED and reside in North Lawndale or our surrounding west side communities. We plan to expand the internship program across the city of Chicago as the program grows.
Applicants must be referred to us by one of our growing list of community partners. These community organizations provide all of the necessary job readiness training before referring candidates to our internship program.
If you are interested in learning more, please contact one of the organizations listed below:
One Chicago Inspire Youth
One Chicago Inspire Youth uses our world of film and television as a conduit to help community organizations who are already doing the work to make a difference in the lives of Chicago youths. This program is aimed at introducing and demystifying the various jobs and careers within our industry. Young people will learn what it takes to create a production, how many different jobs there are, and how many people are involved in making a TV show. This information let youths know that they can pick from any field that interests them for a possible career in the film industry. These are important lessons that all young people need to learn. It can change a young person’s way of thinking by igniting a spark within their minds that says “All is possible! Yes I can!”
President of the Board
Alexander Pissios is President of the Board for the CineCares Foundation and President of Cinespace Chicago Film Studios. The CineCares Foundation was established in 2014 in honor of the founder of Cinespace Film Studios Nikolaos “Nick” Mirkopoulos. Uncle Nick, as he was known to everyone, had a true passion for the community and always sought ways to give back. Alexander shares that passion. He is a born and raised Chicagoan. Alexander is a 1990 graduate of Maine East High School and holds a BA from Northeastern Illinois University. Prior to founding Cinespace Chicago, Alexander was a Chicago real estate developer. Alexander lives with his wife Patricia and four children in Hawthorne Woods.
Sheila R. Brown
Sheila Brown is the Executive Director of the CineCares Foundation. She has an undeniable passion for creating opportunities for the youth of today. Sheila was born and raised on the west side of Chicago and is thrilled to return to her old stomping grounds to help support members of the community through education and job training in TV and film. Sheila has over 25 years of experience in the entertainment industry. Prior to joining CineCares, she ran her own production company for 20 years working with some of the country’s most recognizable companies and brands. Sheila lives with her husband Ken and her “canine son” Teddy in Oak Park.