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, former volunteers, and the general public.


Story-ified surveys
We created sculptures that doubled as receptacles where students could respond to various prompts. Students from NUA Knights at Central High School fed their thoughts to an oversize rubber ducky, while students at NUA’s studio shared their responses with a fuzzy orange feedback monster. Many people also responded to an open online survey told from the perspective of the feedback monster.

Group Workshops
MJ facilitated several hands-on workshops with Studio Team Advisory Board (STAB) members, recent alumni, staff members, 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, while some reached out for further discussion after participating in other parts of the process..

Reviewing past language
MJ looked at our existing language, including products of our most recent strategic planning process (such as our core practices), with fresh eyes and encouraged others to mark up our previous mission.

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

A team of staff plus one board member collaborated with MJ to review community feedback and draft language, prioritizing current student and recent 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!