The W. M. Keck Foundation recently awarded local nonprofit media arts center Venice Arts a three-year grant of $150,000 to support the expansion of its award-winning Art Mentoring Program, which has been offering free arts workshops for low-income youth for the past 19 years. Support from the Keck Foundation will enable Venice Arts to add new workshops, increase enrollment, provide additional mentoring hours, and prepare more youth for advanced learning and college.
The impact of Venice Arts’ Art Mentoring program can be seen in the success of its students. In the past year, students who participated in the Advanced Studies track of the Art Mentoring Program—which provides students with 1:1 mentoring, lab time, and advanced workshops—received scholarships to attend the Art Institute of Chicago, Reed College, University of California at Davis, University of California at Berkeley, and UCLA, among others. Some of these these youth will be the first in their families to attend college.
In recent blog entry on our interactive website, current Advanced Studies’ student 17-year-old Timmie E., who has been taking classes at Venice Arts since she was 12 and is about to enter her senior year of high school, wrote: “Today in school the college counselors came and talked to us about preparing for applications and all that scary stuff. And it got me thinking, soon enough I’ll be leaving Venice Arts. Though thinking about college normally makes me more anxious than excited, I’m feeling pretty enthusiastic right now. It just seems to present all sorts of opportunities that I cannot wait to take advantage of. I really hope to study photography, a conclusion which, had I never come to Venice Arts, I may never have arrived at…. Venice Arts is like a second home.”
With support from the Keck Foundation, Venice Arts will be able to help more youth like Timmie discover their passion for media-based learning. New and expanded workshops supported by the grant will prepare youth for advanced learning and college through a new “Bridge” component, targeting two ends of Venice Arts’ student population: middle-school students and their parents, for whom the Bridge offers a structured pathway into the Advanced Studies track; and a small subset of older teens: high-school graduates needing continued support as they transition to adulthood.
This fall, older teens will have the opportunity to enroll in the new “Video Journalism” workshop, which offers a a hands-on immersion in the filmmaking process as students work in teams, taking on crew rolls to complete a short documentary film with subject matter tied to community issues and the world at large. Middle-school youth will be able to participate in the new, intermediate-level “Direct This!” workshop, which reinforces the basic concepts and technical skills of filmmaking, including effective use of shot composition, editing, and sound, while introducing more advanced skills in storytelling and directing through the creation of short, individual and collaborative films.