So our new Agent of Change for February is ARTS, A Reason to Survive. This is a favorite because they've been around for awhile but were really coming into their own and growing around when BLAH started and have really exploded into a huge and true force of change. Their primary goal is to help under-served youth— help them get through school, help them find themselves and their dreams, help them get into college or find a job— all via creative endeavors. They want these kids to find meaning, motivation and drive (aka a reason to survive). It's the whole teaching you to fish thing as opposed to just feeding you fish.
They accomplish this goal in a myriad of ways: from informal art experiences to professional skill building, through mentorships, apprenticeships, and a giant array of classes in music, studio art, building, design, writing, photography and more. They have a pretty sizable complex in National City that is truly super cool but they also reach out to schools, and neighborhood rec centers and groups and working-artists studios for the kids who cannot come to the Center.
They believe Art is the most powerful force of change.
This organization was started by this awesome guy named Matt D'Arrigo in 2001 after he lost his Mom to cancer. Art and music had really gotten him through it and he thought that if it worked for him, it could work for others. It was really small to start with— like really. And now? I don't know the numbers of the kids they reach but it's crazy and in the thousands. This documentary, about one of the ARTS students, Innocente, won the Academy Award for Short Documentary— and if you haven't seen it you should, it's online and it will make you sob and but also believe:
Here is Matt's San Diego Ted Talk:
Here is an article from a couple years ago about the program and founder:
And here is their website: http://areasontosurvive.org/
We will be donating 10% of all food sales to ARTS every Thursday in February.