Author Archives: Joelle Luongo

Armory’s Art High Provides High-End Instruction and Life Skills

With a firm belief that “arts and arts education are essential components of a well-rounded human experience and a civil community,” the Armory Center for the Arts launched in 2006 an ambitious program called Art High. Its goal: Make out-of-school arts instruction more accessible to the young people of Pasadena, California by providing free year-round classes and mentorship opportunities at parks, schools, and community centers.

With 11 years of effective programming, the Art High initiative has paid off. The Armory, with its fortified network of community partnerships, has been able to provide visual and media arts education, arts experiences, and mentorships to more than 700 middle and high school-aged teens. By means of its six satellite sites, the center reaches young people from the lower-income neighborhoods of Northwest Pasadena and the Boyle Heights and Lincoln Heights neighborhoods of Los Angeles, and delivers vital programming to incarcerated youth at the city’s juvenile detention facilities. In recognition of its excellent after-school work, the program received the 2015 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award.

Art High Apprentices and Mentors at Work. Art High, Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA, 2015 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awardee. Photos: Armory Center for the Arts.

The Armory’s outreach entails a breadth and depth of high-quality instruction. Trained teaching artists provide teens with more than 60 courses a year, totaling over 1,000 hours of drawing, digital photography, screen-printing, letterpress, stop-motion animation, and aerosol (graffiti) art—just to name a few. In addition, they receive wraparound services including academic support, mentoring, and career guidance. Participants also have ample opportunities to exhibit their own work publicly.

Because of Art High, youth from the greater Los Angeles area are not only receiving artistic instruction, but are gaining transferable life skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, and expression. They are positioned for summer employment and provided support services in the form of workforce development and financial literacy training.

“People around the Armory have taught me new values in what life offers and have helped better prepare me for the challenges ahead.” Arnolfo Reyes, former Arts High participant

“Before I started coming here, I didn’t know I was going to college or none of that, but now there’s a chance I could go…I want to be a photographer someday. The Armory’s given me the opportunities to make that happen.” Dalon Poole, former Armory Teen Apprentice

Art High Participant Making a Screen Print. Art High, Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA, 2015 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awardee. Photos: Armory Center for the Arts.

By offering its participants unique opportunities for artist mentorship, technical instruction, and employment skills through paid and volunteer internships, the center keeps youth focused and deeply involved. So much so that Art High teens return time and time again, committed to furthering their education and giving back to their Armory community.

Native Youth Thrive in Tribal Youth Ambassadors Program

Jayden Lim, age 15, speaks on behalf of 2016 NAHYP Awardee, Tribal Youth Ambassadors. Photo credit: Steven E. Purcell.

We are Indian and we are proud. We still sing. We still laugh. We still dream. We still stand. – Jayden Lim

At the 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award’s White House ceremony, which honors programs that are national models in the field of creative youth development, Jayden Lim was the youth speaker on behalf of the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center.

Jayden, a young woman from Santa Rosa, CA, shared the stage with First Lady Michelle Obama. With her personal story, Jayden shared the power of the humanities to transform Native youth’s lives:

I am a Pomo Indian from Northern California. In some ways, I am your average 15 year old. I am a sophomore in high school, I love music, and I am currently learning how to drive. In some ways, I am very different from the other students at my school. I run my own DJ business and I work to educate others about California tribal histories and cultures.

With an average graduation rate of 54.5%, Santa Rosa’s Native youth are unlikely to graduate from high school or college. Many are also challenged by high rates of depression and suicide. The Museum’s Tribal Youth Ambassadors program works to combat these challenges by bringing tribal youth together to address their own needs. Ever since engaging these young people after school and in the summer, the Museum has seen 100% of its Tribal Youth Ambassadors program participants graduate—sometimes, with honors.

In this multi-disciplinary program, students aged 9–24 receive humanities lessons, plus Native language, cultural, and multimedia arts training after school, two days a week, for two to four hours. Students learn leadership, public speaking, and presentation skills as well as how to serve as docents.

Students like Jayden gain numerous benefits from the Museum’s positive learning environments. By studying oral history and practicing storytelling, they gain a greater awareness and appreciation of their heritage; they learn their role in promoting intercultural understanding among Native and non-Native communities; they find their voices to express and share their rich history and culture and go out into their communities ready to tackle tribal stereotypes and misinformation.

For Jayden, participation in the Tribal Youth Ambassadors program has empowered her. She feels a tremendous sense of responsibility to dispel misinformation about Native Americans. She advocates for her community, and in her own words, “demonstrates not only how native people survive but how we thrive.”

Apply for a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award

Images of NAHYP awarded programs

If your organization is offering outstanding out-of-school-time humanities learning opportunities to young people, you may be eligible for the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards. See if your organization is eligible.

The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award is the nation’s highest honor for out-of-school arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America’s young people, particularly those from underserved communities. This award recognizes and supports excellence in programs that open new pathways to learning, self-discovery, and achievement.

How to Apply

Completed applications will only be accepted via the online process.

Application deadline has been extended Until February 13, 9:00PM PST.

The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards is a signature program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities – in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.