Seen and Heard | Creative Youth Development

Apply Now for 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards

National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards LogoThe 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, is accepting applications for the 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards.

The 12 award-winning programs this year will each receive $10,000 and an invitation to accept their award from the President’s Committee’s Honorary Chairman, First Lady Michelle Obama, at a ceremony at the White House.

After-school and out-of-school time arts and humanities programs are encouraged to apply. Access the online application.

Completed applications will only be accepted via the online process and are due by Tuesday, February 2, 2016, 5:00 PM PST.

“Strictly Business – Women of Influence” Engages Young Women in Dialogue

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For the past year, young women at Artists For Humanity (AFH) have been working on “Strictly Business – Women of Influence,” a project profiling women as decision makers in today’s society.

Through “Strictly Business” AFH provides an opportunity for young women to engage in a dialogue with women across a variety of industries, to hear first hand stories of success, and to give them  access to positive role models, with the aim of inspiring them to become their own advocates and to advance their future.

The young woman at AFH have interviewed:

  • Martha Coakley, former Attorney General, Massachusetts
  • Debbie First, PR & Communications
  • Karen Kaplan, Chairman and CEO, Hill Holliday
  • Juliette Kayyem, former Assistant Secretary of Intergovernmental Affairs, United States Department of Homeland Security
  • Jean Kilbourne, author, speaker and film-maker
  • Barbara Krakow, owner Krakow Gallery
  • Joyce Linehan, Chief of Policy, City of Boston
  • Joan Y. Reede, Dean for Diversity and Community Partnership at Harvard Medical School
  • Shirley Lord Rosenthal, Former Senior Beauty Editor of Vogue
  • Sally Susman, Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Pfizer
  • Kelly Talamas, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Mexico & Latin America

Check out their bi-weekly online publication.

My Name is Eury Ortiz & This is My Story

Eury OrtizI arrived in Boston from the Dominican Republic when I was 13. No one told me I was going to a new country until the day before I left. When I got to Boston, I lived with my grandmother in a housing project in South Boston. I remember it was the end of November, and I didn’t have any warm clothes. I didn’t speak a word of English.

Right away I got expelled from school for my involvement in a fight. Fighting was a common activity for me. I had a lot of anger and the streets gave me a place to express it. I was the type of kid who, if I didn’t like the way you looked at me, there would probably be a fight.

Then, a friend of mine told me about a dance program at Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF).

Once there I learned Latin dance and began to feel more and more comfortable. I started to learn English. I still had anger, but people accepted me, and if I was in a bad mood, they took the time to talk to me. Soon, I was performing dance all over Boston, and I was surrounded with positive people – teens and adults.

Eury Ortiz dancing

HSTF staff pushed me on my academics, but I still couldn’t graduate on time. The summer after 12th grade, my HSTF mentor worked with me and helped me complete high school. I started taking classes at Bunker Hill Community College, and a week into the semester, I had another incident on the streets. I was going to a party in the Lenox Street projects, and I got shot. I hit the ground to avoid a hail of bullets, but one of them caught my leg. Even though I lost a lot of blood, I was able to recover.

I realized I had to set my priorities straight, once and for all. I had to change my focus, so I threw myself into work, school, and dance.

At Bunker Hill, HSTF continued to support me through their college success program. They checked in with me every week. They even came to Bunker Hill and went to the financial aid office with me in order to get me the help I needed. I am in my final year at Bunker Hill. Next year I will attend Mass College of Art and Design to major in graphic design. Someday, my dream is to own my own graphic design company. Meanwhile, I dance. I am a member of the professional Mambo Revelation dance company. I also teach dance to middle school kids.

Published with permission from the Hyde Square Task Force.

Join AFTA’s Creative Youth Development Webinar, Tweet Chat on Sept. 15

Learn more about Creative Youth Development as part of Americans for the Arts’ (AFTA) webinar series: “Arts Education: What You Need to Know” on Tuesday, September 15 at 3pm. MCC’s Dr. Erik Holmgren will join partners from the President’s Committee on the Arts & the Humanities, and National Guild for Community Arts Education, to discuss this emerging field. Register for the 20-minute webinar, and continue the conversation in Twitter using #CYD from 8-9pm (ET).

New Fiscal Year Brings New & Expanded CYD Investment, Services

The Massachusetts Cultural Council  approved a spending plan yesterday for the coming year that will invest more than $12 million in grants to nonprofit cultural organizations, local cultural councils, education programs, and working artists across the Commonwealth.

Of that spending, more than $1 million will go to supporting Creative Youth Development programs and services , including:

Funding:

  • Three-year grants of $15,000/year awarded to 63 organizations:

$675,000 invested in 45 YouthReach projects, which promote integration of substantive out-of-school arts, humanities, and science opportunities into a collaborative community response to the needs of young people – specifically those at risk of not making a successful transition to young adulthood.

$270,000 invested in 18 SerHacer projects, which support the growing number of intensive, ensemble-based music programs that create music as a vehicle for youth development and social change. SerHacer is the first public support system for El Sistema-inspired work in the nation.

  • $10,000 for the creation of a new YouthVoice Program that will provide small grants to young people in funded YouthReach or SerHacer programs to support projects that demonstrate their value as artists in the Commonwealth.

Training: The pilot of a Creative Youth Development Fellows Program to prepare young teaching artists and youth workers to be effective in the classroom, in non-profits, and in their work across sectors with schools and funders.

Research: Support for studies that demonstrate the social, academic, and economic impact of Creative Youth Development.

Resources: The Johnson String Library, which works to remove the musical instrument as a barrier to participation and as a burden to programs, families, and young people.

More Than the Arts

The following is a letter to the editor that appeared in The Recorder.  It is a fantastic reminder of how Creative Youth Development transcends discipline and allows us to honor creativity in unexpected places:

Thursday, August 6, 2015

In regards to the article “Statewide arts funding increases” (Aug. 1), in addition to wonderful arts-related programs, it is lesser known that the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) also supports several science and environmental initiatives.

Seeds of Solidarity’s SOL Garden program for North Quabbin youth relies on funding from the MCC YouthReach program (and the generosity of individuals locally and beyond) to provide low-income teenagers with a high-quality, garden-based program after school and throughout the summer. Each year, we provide hundreds of North Quabbin high school students with ecology, sustainable-agriculture and renewable-energy presentations in their school science classes. Then, throughout each spring, summer and fall, a diverse group of 25 North Quabbin teens engage in authentic learning and critical conversations on topics such as food and climate change, soil ecology and food justice plus gain real skills for resiliency through growing and cooking healthy food, and design/building projects. They learn civic engagement as they prepare community meals for those in need, help create gardens for local day cares, and educate thousands about composting at the North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival, among a host of other activities.

Importantly, and amidst a social backdrop of increased opiate use, the program provides a safe setting that is a beacon of hope and lifeline to a positive future. For many of the 400 local youth who have participated in our program since 1999, SOL Garden is a focus of their college essay (often first in their family to go) and a significant volunteer and work experience helping qualify them for jobs and careers. We offer our curricula, resources and videos on our website (seedsofsolidarity.org) to help launch similar programs regionally and nationally.

We do our best to keep our local legislators informed about SOL Garden and our other programs, and are very grateful for their efforts on the recent budget and override. This “arts” funding has the added benefit of supporting innovative science and environmental education, and creatively transforming the lives of many North Quabbin youth.

DEB HABIB

Deborah Habib, is director of the Seeds of Solidarity Education Center. Seeds of Solidarity re-imagines a self sustaining farm as a space for Creative Youth Development in Orange, MA and represents a strong cohort of programs in the sciences and humanities that are supported by YouthReach, STARS, and other MCC programs.

Innovation in Action: Three Case Studies from the Intersections of Arts and Social Justice

Innovation in Action coverHow can creative change makers walk their talk and more effectively enact the change they want to see in the world? What do innovation and adaptive change look like for organizations that have social change as their core mission? A collection of profiles released this month as part of EmcArts’ Innovation Labs explores these questions in their publication, “Innovation in Action: Three Case Studies from the Intersections of Arts and Social Justice.”

Featuring Massachusetts’ own The Theater Offensive, as well as Alternate ROOTS, and Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, this publication examines the contours, possibilities and limitations of innovation and adaptive change at the intersection of arts and social justice.

The Theater Offensive entered the Innovation Lab to design a national organizing model to support and encourage Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) youth theaters nationally through
the Pride Youth Theater Alliance (PYTA). PYTA’s mission is to “connect and support queer youth theater organizations, programs, and professionals committed to empowering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and allied (LGBTQA) youth in North America.” Through the Innovation Lab process, the The Theater Offensive team explored these questions:

  1. How can youth leadership be operationally central to PYTA, and
  2. How can the national PYTA network take advantage of the capacities of the locally grounded organization (The Theater Offensive)?

Download the full publication.

Incorporating Behavioral Health Support for Students (and Staff)

“I’m working with a student whose drawings always depict someone getting shot or stabbed. What should I do?”

“The other day, a student told me that he’s thinking about coming out to his parents and he’s scared about how they’ll respond. I’m not sure what to tell him.”

“I think that one of my students may be homeless right now. Should I ask her about it?”

“One of the students in my class gets really angry and tearful any time that someone critiques his work. How can I help him and the other students handle critiques?”

ICA Teen Digital Photography students taking portrait photos of ICA Teen Slam Team, December 2014. Photo by Angela Mittiga.

In our work with youth, we encounter difficult issues on a weekly, if not daily (or hourly), basis. Working with students means dealing with situations that we may never have previously encountered. It means asking the question: “What should I do?” on a regular basis. Sometimes, the issues that students bring to us don’t seem to have an answer. In these situations, two heads are most always better than one. Consulting with colleagues can help guide your next steps and allow you to talk through an issue to gain a better understanding of it.

To help support students and staff, many schools have brought in behavioral health specialists, such as social workers, psychologists, and counselors. Depending on their areas of expertise, these specialists may be able to provide support in a number of areas, including:

  • Student behavioral health concerns (ex. depression and suicidal ideation, anxiety, trauma exposure, etc.)
  • Accessing local resources (ex. immigration services, family and child services, education advocates, etc.)
  • Crisis management (ex. addressing abuse/neglect concerns, providing support after trauma exposure, etc.)
  • Building social-emotional support systems (ex. helping develop structures and policies for helping staff address student’s behavioral health needs.)

How can after-school programs access support in addressing students’ behavioral health needs?

Last year, I began thinking about this question with the staff of Fast Forward, a teen program at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (ICA). They have developed an education team that is passionate and knowledgeable about what they do, as well as highly engaged with and supportive of their students. As their programming has expanded and students have developed deeper relationships with staff, more issues that students are facing have come to the surface. To address these complex issues, the ICA reached out for a behavioral-health perspective.

Now, once every few weeks, the ICA education staff and I sit down together to discuss current concerns that they are facing in their work with students. Our conversations range from the staff’s work with individual students to issues around systems and policies. To give an example, three issues that we discussed in a recent meeting include:

  • A number of students were exposed to a violent incident in the community. How might the students respond to this event? What are typical responses to trauma exposure? When should staff be concerned about a student’s response and what should they do if they are concerned?
  • A student told a staff member that she was having suicidal thoughts. What next steps should the staff member take? What could the staff member have said when the student brought this up to her? What are signs of depression and suicidal ideation that staff can look out for?
  • One student has missed class for two weeks in a row. What is the ICA’s official policy around absences? Is it better to contact the student directly or to contact the student’s parents?

For each issue, we discuss the concern, think about the context of the issue, and consider possible ways to address it. We develop concrete next-steps for each problem and make sure to check in during the following weeks to determine whether any further steps are needed.

Our goal, in the partnership, is to support the education staff in their immediate work, as well as to build the team’s capacity for supporting their students’ social-emotional needs in the future. We supplement the meetings with phone calls and emails to address crisis situations, occasional trainings to develop skills that the staff would like to strengthen, and collaboration to build policies around supporting students. This work allows the education staff to focus on the mission of the ICA’s programming while also ensuring that they are meeting the needs of their students.

Have your staff faced issues that they are unsure how to address? Would a behavioral-health perspective be helpful in addressing your participants’ needs? If so, consulting with a social worker, counselor, or psychologist might be something to explore.

Melissa Rocklen is a clinical social worker and an artist. As a social worker, she has focused on working with students, families, and staff within the Boston Public School system. She has conducted individual and group therapy, taught lessons on social-emotional skill building, assisted people in accessing local resources, provided trainings for teachers, and built protocols for addressing student needs.

Creative Youth Development

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