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Artists For Humanity

The Brief

Artists For Humanity’s (AFH) mission is to bridge economic, racial, and social divisions by providing under-resourced urban youth with the keys to self- sufficiency through paid employment in art and design. Our mission is built on twin philosophies: Engagement in the creative process is a powerful force for social change, and creative entrepreneurship is a productive and life-changing opportunity for young people and their communities.

Narrative

 

Since 2004, when we constructed Boston’s first Platinum LEED-certified facility, the Artists For Humanity EpiCenter, AFH has continued to bring leadership and vision to our work in the community. We have grown exponentially as a youth and cultural community resource, a successful enterprise, and a center for economic and environmental sustainability. The EpiCenter serves our youth apprentices and the greater community as a learning laboratory in creative industries, environmental sciences and renewable technologies. It has inspired us to formalize interdisciplinary arts and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning – or STEAM! – in our studios. AFH continues to pioneer opportunities for youth to utilize creativity, industry and innovation toward an overarching goal of preparing them for emerging trends in workforce and educational pathways.

AFH began with an imperative – to address the lack of arts experiences within the Boston Public School system – and with an ambitious, unconventional idea – young people can provide, through their innate talent and vision, contemporary creative services to the business community. Training and employing urban teens offers them a key solution to economic disenfranchisement and has a resounding effect on their lives, their families, and their communities. AFH employs 250+ Boston teens annually in paid apprenticeship in the visual arts and creative industries; and we immerse an additional 500+ children and youth in arts exploration experiences through Visual Arts Residencies and other partnerships at Boston public schools.

Since 2004, when we constructed Boston’s first Platinum LEED-certified facility, the Artists For Humanity EpiCenter, AFH has continued to bring leadership and vision to our work in the community. We have grown exponentially as a youth and cultural community resource, a successful enterprise, and a center for economic and environmental sustainability. The EpiCenter serves our youth apprentices and the greater community as a learning laboratory in creative industries, environmental sciences and renewable technologies. It has inspired us to formalize interdisciplinary arts and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning – or STEAM! – in our studios. AFH continues to pioneer opportunities for youth to utilize creativity, industry and innovation toward an overarching goal of preparing them for emerging trends in workforce and educational pathways.

AFH programs fuse art-making, entrepreneurial and business training, experiential arts and STEM learning and audience engagement to create empowering and transformational experiences for Boston youth. Our central program places these experiences within the context of youth employment to underscore the value of the arts in the current and future global economy. Our programs include:

AFH’s core program employs 250+ urban teens annually during critical out of school hours. Youth work with professional artists and designers on innovative projects that promote active learning and advanced skills development in creative products, industrial design, digital media and STEM concepts. They interact directly with clients on corporate commissions, and gain business, communication, client negotiation and workforce readiness skills.

AFH has a Visual Arts Residency at the Eliot K-8 Innovation School. An AFH alumnus/painting mentor leads weekly art projects for students and engages them in creating public artworks to be installed in the school. We also led a special three-week project for Grade 8 students during extended learning hours. We just completed a similar, three-year residency at the Oliver H. Perry K-8 School and have discussed possibilities with other Boston public, private and charter schools.

 

Inward Bound is a team-building experience for groups of adult clients to work with trained teen artists. Adult participants leave with a finished art piece and a new understanding of urban teens. Significantly, Inward Bound offers a role reversal with teens as teachers.

 

This green building tour/program fuses art and science to increase public awareness of energy, conservation and environmental sustainability by highlighting the EpiCenter’s sustainable features and renewable technologies.

AFH’s EpiCenter is host to one of the largest collection of youth-created works in the country, and we organize 50+  public exhibitions annually at public       and corporate sites such as Logan International Airport, State Street, Bank of America, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and Nellie Mae Education Foundation.

In 25 years, AFH has employed over 3,000 young people and engaged an additional 12,000 youth in art and enterprise activities. We have also received many awards, gained national recognition and been studied extensively as an exemplar of program excellence, community arts, effective mentorship and youth empowerment. Our model has been disseminated internationally to organizations that utilize our framework of respect, relationships, and responsibility to empower young people in their communities.

Region

Northeastern United States