In Providence, like in many other cities in our country,
young people—particularly low-income youth and those in communities of color—are systematically denied access to high-quality, creative learning opportunities. This climate, alongside current economic trends, means that organizations like New Urban Arts are under increased pressure to meet students’ learning needs in the arts. Our free, year-round out-of-school youth programs are an innovative response to that need. 

Each year, we serve over 500 high school students, 25 emerging artists and over 3,000 visitors to our studio, through youth programs, professional development workshops, artist residencies, public performances, and exhibitions. 

2016-2017 Overview

507 students enrolled in our Youth Mentorship Program.

223 students actively participated in the studio each month.

19 artists (Artist Mentors) and 2 tutors (Study Buddies) volunteered over 4,000 hours to mentor Providence area high school students.

225 hours of summer programming offered paid internships in the arts for 25 youth.

30 seniors graduated from New Urban Arts, and 26 are attending colleges around the country. Over 60% of our seniors worked with our A Life After School (ALAS) mentor in our pilot year of the program. 

Our ALAS mentor provides post-secondary advising, including college advising, to ensure all our seniors have a plan for post-secondary success. College Visions provides group workshops for students and their families on the college process, essay-writing, and FAFSA.

With support from other program staff, the ALAS mentor also assembles resources for youth not planning to go to college. As part of this effort, the ALAS mentor continues the initiative, piloted in 2013-14, to work with community partners to present the “Not-College Fair,” a showcase of post-graduation programs, such as AmeriCorps and YearUp. New Urban Arts hosted its fourth annual college fair this year, with 10 exhibitors providing information on alternative options post-high school.

2,536 people attended 13 public events & exhibitions, the majority of which were free and open to the public, including art exhibitions, workshops, and a large community-led block party. Notably, in October 2014, we co-hosted the first annual Rock the Block block party event with the Providence Public School Department. To facilitate this event, New Urban Arts helped to forge a partnership with PPSD and 30 community organizations. The Block Party was held in the courtyard between Central, Classical and PCTA high schools, across the street from New Urban Arts. We hosted over 10 planning sessions with other organizations to coordinate this large event that engaged over 1,600 people.


2016-2017 Student Demographics

34% Male
5% Other
61% Female

37% Hispanic/Latino
27% Multi-racial
12% White/Caucasian
18% African American
6% Asian/Asian American


Grade Level
28% Seniors
31% Juniors
21% Sophomores
20% Freshmen

 of students were new to New Urban Arts.

82% of our students qualified for free or reduced-price lunch based on income guidelines.

94% of our students are from five ZIP Codes; 02904, 09205, 02907, 02908, and 02909 where collectively the poverty rate for families with kids is 34%, almost twice the national average.

2016-2017 Student Response

100% of students say they have developed a way of creating that expresses who they are.

say they have built strong, trusting relationships with their peers and Artist Mentors.

feel they are more open to trying new things.

say they have developed more confidence.

say they have developed a better sense of what they want to do in the future.

agree that New Urban Arts is a supportive and safe environment. 

The following are open-ended responses to the question, “Do you like working with an Artist-mentor? Why?”

  • I like being/working with them because apart from teaching you new things, they also make you feel trusted and at home.
  • I do like working with artist mentors because they push me to try new things! It’s usually hard to get me out of my shell, but they make sure that I stay adventurous.
  • Yes because when I get stuck and don’t know how to fix it, they are there to help me so I don’t just give up, instead I continue.
  • Yes, because I get one on one attention and that is the way I learn better.
  • I like working with artist mentors because it’s mad guidance and help that enables me to better do what I want to do. Also, mentors can give you life guidance beyond art and it’s helpful to get that perspective on young people problems from an adult.
  • Yes, because they give amazing advice and they’re not judgmental at all, they understand we’re going through this process of growing as a teenager and don’t always expect us to be perfect, like our parents would want us to be. I could tell them anything without being criticized or punished.
  • I like working independently but I like the option of having someone to help.
  • Yes, because it feels like working with a friend who is just more skilled and has a lot of great advice.
  • I love it because I get to build stronger ties with members of my community.
  • Yes, because it not only makes me more confident in what I am doing, but it is nice to have somebody who is interested in what you’re doing.
*all responses taken from the 2016-2017 year-end student survey

2015-2016 Artist Mentor Demographics

20 local artists volunteered twice weekly from October through May.

95% of artist mentors were college students or college graduates.

29% were alumni students.

49 artists applied for 13 spots.

7 artist mentors returned from the previous year (53% retention rate).

Program Evaluation

New Urban Arts is deeply committed to the rigorous collection, analysis and sharing of both qualitative and quantitative data. We evaluate and monitor both the impact and quality of our programs through a variety of strategies including detailed demographic analysis, attendance enrollment and participation tracking, student self-assessment, written and verbal reflections, and regular public exhibitions and performances of student work. We do all this to hold ourselves accountable to the public and communities we serve, to identify new and emerging needs in our community, and to improve our work. Below are several evaluation tools we currently have in place:

The Participation Index
 is an equation to assess studio usage that takes into account how the number of active students correlates with the frequency of their participation. We begin by tracking student participation daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly. This information is then cross-referenced with student demographics. 

Student Registration Forms allow students to reflect on their creative practice in an open-ended, written format at the start of each program year.
End of Year Surveys are distributed each May in order to collect qualitative and quantitative feedback from Artist Mentors and students. As a bookend to the Student Registration Forms, students are asked to reflect in an open-ended, written format about the development of their creative practice during the program year.
Written Artist Statements accompany each studio exhibition and provide a platform for students to reflect on their process and learning throughout the program year.

Rhode Island Program Quality Assessment (RIPQA) As a 21st Centurty Community Learning Center, New Urban Arts participates in an ongoing RIPQA process,

Program Evaluation Reports