Deep Center’s After-School Workshops Foster Young Authors in Savannah, Georgia

Left: André Massey, Jr., age 14, talks on behalf of the 2015 NAHYP Awardee, Young Author Project. Photo credit: Steven E. Purcell. Right: Ellexus Hicks reads from an anthology of students’ creative writing at a Deep Speaks event. Photo: Bill Durrence.“Your story is enough, and it matters. So tell it, and tell it well.”

Since 2008, the Deep Center has given youth in Savannah, Georgia the tools and encouragement to write with skill, confidence, and courage. Recognizing that students with poor literacy skills are more likely to drop out, Deep brings free and fun after-school writing instruction to youth in some of the city’s low-performing middle schools. Through instruction, discussion, one-on-one mentoring, and writing exercises, dedicated volunteer Writing Fellows work with students to develop fundamental writing skills and creative self-expression once a week for 11 weeks.  Continue reading “Deep Center’s After-School Workshops Foster Young Authors in Savannah, Georgia”

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

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.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. Continue reading “Armory’s Art High Provides High-End Instruction and Life Skills”

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. Continue reading “Native Youth Thrive in Tribal Youth Ambassadors Program”

Amplify Grants Awarded to 15 Youth-Led Community Projects

Youth leaders with Elevated Thought in Lawrence, MAThis year, the Mass Cultural Council awarded 15 Amplify grants totaling $15,000 to projects designed and executed by young people in programs receiving YouthReach or SerHacer funding. Amplify shines a spotlight on the contributions these young people make to their communities by supporting them directly in creating and publicly sharing their work.

See the Amplify projects supported in 2017 and 2016.

Drumming & Myth: Healing Urban Youth Through Alchemy

Still from FINDING THE GOLD WITHIN, by Karina EpperleinAlchemy is a nonprofit organization in Akron, OH that provides a safe environment and sense of community to assist in the development of urban adolescents through the telling, discussion, and interpretation of mythological stories and fairy tales told to the beat of an African drum.

Since 2003, Alchemy has worked with over 2,000 male youth in its creative youth development programs. In 2012, they received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from the President’s Committee on the Arts & Humanities.

“Myths speak to archetypal situations, universal dilemmas,” said Kwame Scruggs, Executive Director of Alchemy, Inc. And, embedded in myths are guides to behavior that he believes can help counter some of the destructive images of masculinity that have taken root in some aspects of urban culture.

For the seven years that I have been in Alchemy, It has helped me grow from a boy to a man. The mythological stories we read and hear you can relate to everyday life. It helps you become a better decision maker to help you through hard times. It also connects you with other black males where I learn about their problems and we are able to help each other overcome obstacles. Alchemy is a great group of loyalty and brotherhood. – Marlon, Alchemy participant

I come, I listen, I share or say what I gotta say. I feel more open, because nothing leaves the circle. I’m something like a son, well, we all can say we are. But with no father figure in my life it seems like I had one when I come here and a lot of brothers so it taught me how to bond with people. So I come because it’s Alchemy. Love Kwame like a father.” – Dionte, Alchemy participant

Although personal development, rather than academic achievement, is the program’s chief goal, Alchemy’s techniques are also promoting academic success. Twenty-four of 28 members of its “first class” graduated from high school and went on to college. (And, of those 24 who enrolled in college, nine Alchemy alums have already graduated with their college degrees with 6 more alum on track to graduate by June 2018.)

In Finding the Gold Within, a feature-length documentary by Karina Epperlein, follow six young African American men, alumni of Alchemy’s program, as they enter college, determined to redefine society’s images and low expectations of them:

Youth Voice Pops Up with Express Yourself’s Parasols

Installation of hand-painted parasols in Beverly, MA

Amplify, Mass Cultural Council’s grant program created to support youth led and designed projects, is starting to bear fruit, the first of which was the wonderful Pop-Up Parasol exhibit by Youth Mentor Rachel at Express Yourself (EXYO).

Originally conceived as a smaller project involving 20 hand-painted parasols to be on public display at Cumming Center, the idea took hold and blossomed due to the leadership of Rachel, an EXYO mentor, who empowered by the Amplify grant took it upon herself to fundraise and manage the entire project, recruiting peers and participants from EXYO and eventually more than tripling the original project scope. The parasols were displayed in a 70 foot long installation which opened on April 26, bringing  color to a cold spring afternoon in Beverly.

Read the full blog post.

Mass Cultural Council Launches “Amplify” to Fund 12 Youth-Led Community Projects

We also have our social imagination: the capacity to invent
visions of what should be and what might be in our deficient
society, on the streets where we live, in our schools. – Maxine Greene

Today the Mass Cultural Council introduces Amplify Youth Voices; a new initiative to raise the voices of young people whose creative expression is driving positive change in communities across the state.

Amplify grants provide support for projects designed and executed by young people in programs that are currently receiving YouthReach or SerHacer funding. A total of $11,440 was awarded with each grantee receiving up to $1,000.

See the funding list.