Fostering opportunity with creativity in Boston

Jul 06, 2012

Although one of the wealthiest cities in the U.S., Boston deals with the same urban challenges as any other metropolitan area. In certain neighborhoods where families struggle financially and youth routinely confront the hazards of gangs and drugs, programs like Artists For Humanity stand as beacons of opportunity. Rather than “disadvantaged” youth, Artists For Humanity Executive Director Susan Rodgerson views these young men and women as “under-resourced,” meaning that with the right support and encouragement, they can create their own future.

Founded in 1991, Artists For Humanity’s mission is to bridge economic, racial and social divisions by providing under-resourced youth with the keys to self-sufficiency through paid employment in the arts. The organization blends a unique model of arts education, creativity and enterprise – all designed to empower and employ Boston teens. A nationally recognized program, Artists For Humanity has been widely hailed as a best practice model for effective mentorship, youth empowerment and social entrepreneurship.

Bank of America has been a strong partner of Artists For Humanity for the past seven years, supporting a youth afterschool program and summer jobs program. In 2010, Artists For Humanity received a $200,000 grant from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation to help continue its work with Boston’s urban youth. Part of the bank’s Neighborhood Excellence Initiative, the unrestricted grant also included in-kind leadership training.

“Bank of America really stepped up to make a difference in the neighborhoods where they do business. By investing in Artists For Humanity, they are investing in the young people of Boston,” said Jason Talbot, co-founder of Artists For Humanity.

The program continues to excel along with its apprentices and alumni. Ninety percent of participants earn their high school diploma on time. Artists For Humanity's youth-inspired artwork and design services generated $1,055,000 in revenue in 2011, $575,000 of which was paid directly to teen participants in wages and commissions for their creative work.

“From the very beginning, the vision for Artists For Humanity was to change the lives of young people throughout the city by harnessing the power of art and creativity and combining it with the ability to experience a job in the process. It has opened so many doors for kids throughout this city and we couldn't be prouder to be a partner with Artists For Humanity,” said Bob Gallery, Massachusetts state president for Bank of America.

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