Freedom Arts & Education Center's mission is to empower young people to become the highly creative, literate, passionate, independent thinkers they are capable of becoming. We provide quality and diverse arts education to youth all throughout the St. Louis region and focus our efforts on the north and west sides of St. Louis City. Since 2012, we have been supporting families primarily with Black and POC students through accessible after school and weekend community arts programs, decolonized educational resources, enriching multidiscipline summer programming, and in-school advocacy.
Empowering young people to become highly creative, literate, passionate, independent thinkers who realize and utilize their God-given talents and worth.
Our values begin with our foundation and tradition of faith. We find our purpose and tenacity in these Biblical passages:
“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
"What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Director of Education & Operations
Beth Gibson is a full-time educator who creates caring learning communities and builds strong relationships with students and their families. As Director of Education & Operations and co-founder of Freedom Arts, Beth carries the dual responsibility of directing the organization’s academic programming and managing administrative tasks with the goals of disrupting the school to prison pipeline and ensuring the organization’s operational health.
Director of Program Integrity
Miles Dela Cruz is an artist, educator, audio engineer, and mentor who has a wealth of experience working in multiple creative, educational, and technical fields. As Director of Program Integrity and co-founder of Freedom Arts, Miles organizes programs and events, trains teaching artists and tutors, mentors and tutors youth, and facilitates many Art & Academic Workshops.
Eric “Prospect” White is a teaching, performing, and recording artist whose creative hustle and advocacy for youth makes him one of the most in-demand facilitators in St. Louis. As Connection Creator for Freedom Arts, Prospect mentors the youth and facilitates music, creative writing, and multiple educational workshops and classes.
Nikki Ellis is a performing and teaching artist who has worked in the creative nonprofit space for more than 10 years. As Design Coordinator for Freedom Arts, Nikki assists with event design, marketing campaigns, and fundraising initiatives, and occasionally serves as a teaching artist with the youth.
Arts & Academics Facilitator
Garrett Lacy is a St. Louis native percussionist, composer, and educator. After graduating from Ritenour High School, Garrett went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Entrepreneurship from Webster University in 2013.
Kyle holds a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies from Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis. A skilled musician and organizer, Kyle has extensive professional experience working in churches as a worship leader, band director, pastoral intern, and organizational growth apprentice.
Debora Grandison is a poet, educator, and motivational speaker with 20 years of teaching and public speaking experience in dozens of different settings. She is a devoted volunteer of The American Heart Association, The American Diabetes Association and The National Coalition of Women with Heart Disease.
Jenny Elliott holds an MsC in Development Management and is a UK Chartered Accountant specializing in nonprofit finance and operations. After spending 13 years working in London and the Middle East, she returned home with her family to St. Louis in 2017.
Karen Koenig graduated from Belmont University in 2004 with her Bachelors in Social Work. After years of working in the field in case management and community development, Karen is currently spending her time raising her three children with her husband in Kansas City and returning to her first love of songwriting.
Andrew Gibson has been an artist, educator, and organizer since he was a teenager. As the Executive Director and co-founder of Freedom Arts, Andrew directs all fundraising and marketing campaigns, participates in all programs, supports staff in day-to-day operational and programmatic tasks, facilitates workshops and classes, and mentors the youth.
In 2011, a group of six artists, educators, and activists started meeting, carrying the burdens of the slashing of arts programming, educational inequity, and increasing crime and school dropout rates. We discussed the problems that youth were facing as many schools in the systemically divested parts of the region were losing accreditation. 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 starting an organization that would address these issues.
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