St. Louis ArtWorks provides youth with opportunities to grow through the arts June 1, 2015

St. Louis ArtWorks, an employment and arts training center for youth in St. Louis, MO, has helped over 1,900 teens since it began in 1995. Currently, the organization works with 168 teens from primarily low- to moderate-income households who gain life skills, boost self-esteem, and earn paychecks through the arts.

By consolidating operations into one site, St. Louis ArtWorks will more than double its space and increase the number of young people it serves on an annual basis. After a competitive application process, the selected teens collaborate with artists to produce works sold at public sale, commissioned for public and private clients, and performed publicly. Last year’s project lineup included a mural depicting the Historic Ville neighborhood for Wells Fargo; other clients have been Incarnate Word Foundation, Justine Petersen Housing and Reinvestment Corporation, and the Missouri Foundation for Health.

IFF’s $315,000 loan to St. Louis ArtWorks — funded through St. Louis investor Deaconess Foundation — will pay for leasehold improvements for the 18,000-square-foot building. The organization’s new headquarters will have an urban garden, an office suite, a conference room, gallery/exhibit space, and various education spaces, including a digital studio, a sculpture studio, and a wood and metal shop. St. Louis ArtWorks also will hire one additional full-time and nine part-time employees, bringing its staff to 16 members.

The organization has won numerous honors, including FOCUS What’s Right with the Region Award for Demonstrating Innovative Solutions, the Missouri Art Council’s Arts Education Award, and the YouthBridge Community Foundation Award.