The Story of NUA’s New Language

In our most recent strategic plan, we articulated a desire to re-examine our organization’s core documents. In 2022, NUA refreshed our purpose, mission, and values statements to better reflect our community as we look toward the next 25 years. Providence artist-educator MJ Robinson facilitated this collective effort. Here’s how we did it!

CHAPTER 1: Data Gathering
October 2021–April 2022

We found fun and engaging ways to collect thoughts, feelings, and ideas about NUA from stakeholders in our community: students, alumni, staff, board members, former staff and volunteer mentors, and the general public.


Story-ified surveys
NUA Knights at Classical High School “fed the [rubber] ducks” their thoughts, while students at NUA’s studio shared their thinking with a fuzzy orange feedback monster. Many people responded to an open online survey told from the perspective of the fictional NUA feedback monster.

Workshops with solo, group, and conversation work
MJ facilitated several hands-on workshops with Student Advisory Board (STAB) members, young alumni, staff and board members, and the 25th anniversary committee.

One-on-one conversations
MJ interviewed several key members of NUA’s community. Most were identified by staff leadership. Some reached out for further discussion after involvement in other parts of the process.

Reviewing past language
MJ looked at our previous language, including work started in our strategic plan (like our core practices) with fresh eyes and encouraged others to mark up the original mission created in 1997.

CHAPTER 2: Data Analysis and Drafting
April 2022–August 2022

a team of staff and a board member collaborated with MJ to review community feedback and started to draft language, prioritizing current student and young alumni voices in our writing process. STAB met to revise the working draft.


CHAPTER 3: Approving and Celebrating
September–October 2022

STAB, staff, and board members met in September and voted to officially approve the new purpose, mission, and values. We partied with the new language at the 25th Gala celebration in October!