Our Mission & History

Freedom Arts & Education Center is a youth empowerment organization. We focus on providing relevant arts education all throughout the St. Louis area, but spend most of our time making art, doing homework, and learning life skills with a group of young people living in northwest St. Louis City. The mission of Freedom Arts & Education Center is to empower young people to become the highly creative, literate, passionate, independent thinkers they are capable of becoming. By providing arts education, academic tutoring, mentoring, and leadership training to the underserved youth of St. Louis, Freedom Arts aims to inspire young people to realize and utilize their God-given talents and worth.

Freedom Arts was founded in 2012 by a small group of likeminded artists, educators, and mentors who wanted to make a positive impact in St. Louis by advocating for the arts, providing academic enrichment, and making opportunities available to underserved children so they can develop into strong leaders. After conducting programming in the St. Louis area for a year and a half, Freedom Arts was approved for tax exemption under section 501(c)(3), making the organization a nonprofit public charity. The Leadership Team and Board of Directors continue to develop and grow Freedom Arts into a vital organization that serves people of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life. God has called us to be proactive and create opportunities for underserved children, hard working artists, and devoted mentors. We believe we are all united by one Creator, and under that truth, our conflicting divisions can become celebrated diversities.

In 2011, a group of six artists, educators, and activists started meeting to discuss the burdens that were heavy on our hearts. We discussed the problems that children were facing as schools were losing accreditation and programming, and how schools in the city of St. Louis were hit the hardest. We discussed the reality that artists were facing the decline of opportunities within their skills and passions, and that the arts were becoming increasingly marginalized. Months of discussions, counsel, research, and prayer led us to the decision to start an organization that would address these issues. We wanted to provide today’s students with not only the same opportunities and education in the arts that we enjoyed, but also with positive relationships with people willing to share their skills. We wanted to make work available for artists who spent their lives committed to learning how to shape stories, create beauty, and improve our world. We wanted to convince the culture that the arts are necessary and that all students deserve equal opportunities.

We started out by developing a curriculum of unique art workshops that would appeal to the way 21st century students think and communicate. From writing raps and drumming on buckets, to spray paint art and hip hop dance, to spoken word poetry and writing blues songs, we felt confident that we could offer a product that most other arts education groups were not. Additionally, these were all art forms about which we were passionate and could teach to any age and skill level. We also made sure to combine academic subjects with the artistic disciplines to ensure students were growing multiple skill sets.

Our first workshop presentation was in the summer of 2012 at a park near Brentwood, Missouri for an outdoor church service in which we combined bucket drumming with African dance styles. We deepened our connection with that church and started offering regular arts workshops to children involved in their inner city ministry. However, the church was entering a transitional season and the new director of the inner city ministry decided to join the staff of Freedom Arts. With the blessing and support of the church, Freedom Arts “adopted” this group of about twenty children living in the northwest end of St. Louis City and began focusing our time and resources with them.

Meanwhile, our staff was receiving training in nonprofit development, arts management, teaching, and social work. Our arts workshops were garnering enthusiastic support from other organizations and we were able to fund our programs with our scholars through the contracting of our workshops. Our network of teaching artists was growing and many were eager to join our team and pass on their skills to the next generation. Our programs reached viable points and we were able to expand them and add on new programs to serve the growing goals of our scholars and artists.

We are committed to our mission of empowering young people to become the highly creative, literate, passionate, independent thinkers they are capable of becoming. We want to continue to inspire young people to realize and utilize their God-given talents and worth. Nothing makes us happier than to connect them with worthy artists, educators, and mentors who are dedicated to the same cause and want to pour into the next generation. The vision of Freedom Arts & Education Center as always included artists of all ages and stages. We want to be a part of building unity and purpose across dividing lines in our beloved St. Louis.