WOONSOCKET – A new joint program from Beacon Founders Academy is pairing with older teen artists at Riverzedge Arts with younger kids to give them a head start in art and design careers.
The youth will work collaboratively under the direction of professional artist-instructors to learn industry-standard skills and technology in one of Riverzedge Arts’ specialty fields. The Mentoring in the Arts Program allows high-school aged teens to develop leadership and mentorship experience in their specialty fields while giving middle school teens a chance to get ahead in fields like graphic design, photography, screen printing, painting, woodworking, and more.
“The focus of this program is empowering our youth to create positive learning communities,” said Riverzedge Arts’ Executive Director Kristen Williams. “When teens have a chance to work together in our studios, we see richer social-emotional learning, more favorable attitudes toward school, and overall improvements in both career readiness and classroom performance.”
Williams argues this program is needed now more than ever, as Woonsocket youth face systemic barriers that have only intensified since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“By working with Beacon to reach youth even earlier than our core program has traditionally done, we hope to make a critical intervention for youth in Woonsocket who are statistically outperformed on state and national levels,” she said.
Beacon Founders Academy Principal Cindy Giroux said school officials are excited about the new opportunity for students.
“We hope that the students involved in the mentoring program will be empowered to become leaders and positive role models in our school community,” Giroux said. “Through this partnership with Riverzedge Arts, we will also enhance our focus on the arts at Founders Academy and the Woonsocket community.”
Launching on Monday, May15, the initial program will pair ten Beacon Founders youth with 11 Riverzedge Arts teens, with meetings scheduled every other week over the course of the 18-week program.
Founded in 2002 by artists, youth development professionals, and community leaders, the mission of Riverzedge Arts is to use innovative applied and work-based strategies to teach art, design, and critical thinking to the youth of northern Rhode Island, putting participants as well as the community on a path to economic and cultural sustainability.
To learn more, visit www.riverzedgearts.org.