ARC is pleased to announce that we have received a $98,490 grant from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board (www.statefarmyab.com) to support the launch of Blank Canvas.
If you had a Blank Canvas – what design would you create? Youth are a blank canvas and they can design that canvas to look anyway they choose… including college.
Our Blank Canvas program allows low-income and minority youth to directly impact the challenges they and their peers face when considering college. Unaffordable? Unattainable? Undervalued? Undermined? Unknown? By creating their own messages and images, youth can design the campaign that will most effectively motivate themselves and others.
Blank Canvas brings together the outreach experience of Illinois Wesleyan University’s Action Research Center (ARC) with the technical expertise of the College of Fine Arts at Illinois State University. Students and staff from both institutions will provide leadership to the project. The program has three partners who all have existing, quality youth programs. Jesus House and Western Avenue Community Center (WACC) are on the westside of town. UNITY Community Center is in Bloomington’s sister-city, Normal, but serves a similar population. IWU, ISU and State Farm have long-standing relationships with UNITY and WACC. These agencies all report that they need more programming for “tweens” and high school students and that this age group enjoys programs about art and technology. This program will create new levels of collaboration among all partners and the youth they serve.
Each not-for-profit agency will receive four new computers complete with the necessary graphic design software along with a digital camera and a color print/fax/scanner. This creates a new dimension to WACC and UNITY’s existing computer labs and establishes a computer lab for Jesus House.
University students will join with junior high and high school students to create teams at each of the partner sites. These students will work as a large group, in small teams and individually. With training, mentoring, and trial and error, they will create a comprehensive marketing and outreach campaign to promote college enrollment. Components might include brochures, posters, postcards, T-shirts, a billboard, a Facebook page, and a website. With their new skills and resources they will support other projects such as Global Youth Service Day (GYSD), the West Bloomington Revitalization Partnership (WBRP), and their home agencies.
There will be community-based programs in spring and fall and a summer camp based at ISU in the summer. Youth can participate in any or all three sections. Each section of Blank Canvas also includes visits to IWU and ISU, workshops for parents about financial aid, a service learning project, a mentoring program with current first generation college students, guest speakers in careers related to art, design and project management, and field trips to relevant businesses.
For more information, please contact Deborah Halperin at email@example.com or 309-825-6006. Visit our project website, www.lifeisablankcanvas.org (currently under construction) for news and updates.