Mayor Wellington E. Webb

Two Youth Arts to Career Projects

I. Arts Street

Ages 14-21

Arts Street is an eight-week summer apprenticeship program for youth, co-sponsored by the Mayor's Office of Art Culture and Film and the University of Colorado at Denver, College of Arts and Media. Arts Street offers paid summer jobs with professional artists, who also are paid for their time and expertise. In the first year, 30 young people enrolled; in the second summer, more than 60 youth were employed. Through real work experience, young artists learn:

-- The connection between their chosen art field and their education. Math, language arts, science and history are naturally integrated into project planning, design and execution;

-- Job skills such as project planning, time management, academic and technical research, team work, budgeting, purposeful creativity, and client relationships;

-- Professional mentors;

-- Career and educational opportunities.

Arts Street is built on current research on resiliency and asset-based prevention of youth risk behavior; project-based and adult learning; school-to-career activities= impact on attendance, grades and graduation rates; and current brain research into the relationship between art and intellect. Instructors from these summer jobs become mentors who help youth develop long range goals and realistic plans to achieve those goals. They help their protegees weather the normal ups and downs encountered on the way to achieving their ambitions.

Art Street serves city youth who are surrounded in the community by opportunities to make bad choices about drugs, sexual activity, dropping out and crime. Some participants also come from very tough family environments of poverty, violence and substance abuse. Others have struggled in a school system that has had to cut back on their one area of strength, the arts. These conditions are ripe for juvenile and young adult risk behavior; Arts Street provides a map and boost to better life choices.

II. Arts Club Denver

Grades 6-8

Arts Club Denver is one of five presently operating after school-to-career clubs, sponsored by the Mayor’s Office for Education and Children and serving almost 1,000 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. A sixth, Platte Club Denver, was folded into the curriculum of Denver Public Schools. Two new clubs -- Business and Earth -- will open January 20, 2000. Club Denver, began by Mayor Webb three years ago, are very popular and provide the core of an after-school program in all DPS middle schools. Originally funded by private grants from The Colorado Rockies Baseball Club and many others, it was incorporated into Denver’s 2000 General Fund.

Each Club is free to students. Each builds its curriculum from community speakers, field trips and materials. Curriculum focuses on career paths, career skills, practice and experience in preliminary skills, and links between school work and their chosen field. Each Club contains a college search simulation, with mock applications and essays, financing and scholarship planning, high school schedule planning and college tours. Members also learn CPR and safety related to the field. For artists, that includes materials toxicity and so one. Specific content activities are developed and selected by each chapter sponsor in partnership with the young members.

Teachers from the middle schools are chosen by the principal to be chapter sponsors. Their work is coordinated and tracked in the Mayor’s Office. As part of the City’s work force development effort, City staff from related departments serve as coordinators for the chapter sponsors of each Club: Arts, the Mayor’s Office of Art, Culture and Film; Aviation, Denver International Airport; Firefighters, the Denver Fire Department; Medics, Denver Health Medical Center; Teachers, Mayor’s Office for Education and Children, which guides the entire program. Business Club Denver will be linked to the Mayor’s Office for Economic Development; Earth to Environmental Health. The City pays teachers and provides a small operating fund for each chapter.

Arts Club Denver is a show piece. School chapters focus on one art or sample many arts. Even though teachers are paid for one afternoon a week, many offer more. One teacher bought old bedsteads for members to convert into wood benches, then paint creatively. Children came after school everyday for months to complete their work and then curate a school wide exhibition.

As with Arts Street, Arts Club Denver does not limit or target its membership, except to the enrolled school population. But all young people of Denver live and go to school in environments that offer plenty of opportunity to choose trouble. Club Denver and the City’s support for extended day, summer and preschool activities respond to the changes of two-parent working families, single parent families, and mandatory training and work requirements under TANF.

The design is based on research in school-to-career, resiliency, youth crime prevention; cognition; youth development; and brain research.


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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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