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…number one support system

I’m writing this open letter to ask for your support as we head into the summer. Please give by June 30, the end of our fiscal year. Your gift will allow us to provide our summer programs and create a vital new position, a full-time post-secondary advisor to help students with the college process or create an alternative plan for life after high school.

Your support will change students’ lives. At our recent fundraiser, a student named Lily shared her story:

New Urban Arts has been a part of my life for five years. In middle school, I had very limited opportunities to make art…. I often found myself stuck in the cafeteria with sheets of copy paper and a pencil, all by myself.

You’ll find way too many public school students in this predicament, and since Lily was in middle school, the number of art teachers has dropped even lower. It’s unacceptable. Art is how we develop identity and work through emotions, not to mention the fact that the arts improve academic learning. And for some youth, creativity is the key to their future; they can’t succeed without it. Your gift will ensure that New Urban Arts is here for them.

I remember the first time I walked into NUA…. I was completely amazed by all the art supplies that were available, there was so much more than copy paper and pencils. And not only that, it was all free. I was so relieved knowing that it wouldn’t pose a financial burden on my family. Ever since that first day, I have been a constant part of the studio, and the studio has been a constant part of my life.

Free arts education draws young people to New Urban Arts. Once they’re here, the relationships they build—the relationships that your gift will help them build—allow them to overcome tough challenges:

This place became a home, and it quickly became my number one support system. I have attended three different high schools over the past five years, two of which caused me to think about dropping out of high school. At the second school I had no control of my education, and felt like none of the adults at the school were listening to me or had my interest in mind. In a time when I felt like all the adults in my life were not on my side, NUA staff was there for me. They were heavily involved in helping me choose the educational path that was right for me. They attended and advocated for me at meetings with school and district administrators.

Too many vulnerable youth are stuck in the wrong learning environments. Please make sure they can find New Urban Arts, as Lily did. New Urban Arts is so vital, particularly for youth who can’t thrive in traditional educational spaces—students who you’d picture doing well in a private alternative school, if their parents could afford it.

Instead of telling young people what to do, we ask them, “What do you want to learn?” We trust them, and in turn, they trust us. And when you earn their trust, young people will ask for the help they need. Then, together, you can do great things:

I don’t know where I would be if NUA wasn’t here—I probably would have dropped out of high school. I’m so grateful to have this be a part of my life…. I’m happy to say, I’ve been accepted to a few colleges and I look forward to graduating.

Your gift to New Urban Arts by June 30 will support our summer programs and allow us, for the first time, to hire a full-time post-secondary advisor.

Summer students spend four hours a day with mentors, building the relationships that are central success stories like Lily’s. As you may know, we are renovating this summer, so we must temporarily relocate our offices and run programs at partner organizations, driving the cost of summer programs higher than ever. However, with your support, we will still be able to offer a full range of summer learning programs.

Meanwhile, more young people than ever are asking for the kind of post-secondary advising we provided to Lily. New Urban Arts is their home, and they want it to be the place where they plan their futures. Right now, we’re not in a position to provide this for every student who asks, but you can get us there.

Frankly, some funders question our approach. Perhaps they don’t think our students can handle the freedom of being asked, “What do you want to learn?” But over 19 years, hundreds of youth like Lily have shown us that it works. That’s why we need people like you—people who believe that all youth, regardless of background, deserve a space they can trust and that trusts them.

We can’t do it without it you. Please give today.

Daniel Schleifer
Executive Director