Freedom Arts & Education Center offers over 50 Art and Academic Workshops! These workshops are interactive seminars that provide students of all ages and backgrounds with unique and meaningful learning opportunities that combine arts and academics. Our teaching artists facilitate explorations of multiple disciplines in a fun, educational setting aligning with school and organizational curriculum and principles. These workshops can run as one-time, one-hour programs, or can be spread out over multiple visits for a more cumulative and thorough learning experience.
We facilitate workshops for…
Unleashing Potential St. Louis County Libraries
Family Forward St. Louis Public Libraries
Faith For Justice Missouri History Museum
St. John’s UCC St. Louis Homeschool Cooperative
LifeWise STL Tower Grove Christian Academy
Arch Co-Op Maplewood Public Library
Pilgrim UCC De Soto Public Library
From beautifying our streets and uplifting our community, to improving life skills and creative abilities, we shape our stories and determine our destiny.
Create Days make space and gather resources for ongoing individual works, collaborative projects, and exposure trips. These opportunities allow our scholars to discover passions, deepen processes, and develop positive practices. Connections to mentors and career development are even more things made possible through Create Days. Whether we're painting murals, beautifying parks, visiting a museum, writing poems and songs, choreographing dances, or producing plays, this program challenges our scholars in fun and relevant ways while providing them with guided instruction from skilled artists and support from dedicated mentors. Through the arts, our scholars make connections to themselves, their communities, and the world at large in order to shape their stories and determine their destinies.
This program has been funded in part by the Arts and Education Council, We Raise Foundation, The Luminary, Regional Arts Commission, and Caddis Life. Art supplies and music equipment is donated by Flanagan Paint & Supply and Play It Forward STL, as well as by many generous individuals.
In Youth Artist Organizers, our currently enrolled scholars between 5th and 10th grade are financially compensated as they closely work with our teaching artists and local organizations to intentionally grow in their creativity, professionalism, and social consciousness. YAOs engage with community events and guided activities to learn a wide range of needed skills such as public speaking, event planning, design thinking, lesson planning, contract development, musicianship, adaptability, and neighborhood canvassing. YAOs have complete mock and real artistic and community projects, explore local institutions, expand their network of mentors, develop their own creative voice, and gain the skills and confidence needed to succeed in their school years and beyond, all while being compensated for their valuable time and efforts right now.
Every August we host our Freedom Arts Expo. This annual block-party-meets-art-fair is a day of workshops, performances, and presentations provided at no cost to the community with the goal of uniting people through the arts. Placing an emphasis on hip-hop, public art, and creativity from multiple cultures, the Expo is a one of a kind quality arts event in North St. Louis. The Freedom Arts Expo showcases emerging and established teaching and performing artists, makes the arts available to the community, and exhibits the opportunities available through our organization. Since 2012, this has been our cornerstone event to bring people together and show what community looks like, why the arts matter, and why access to quality education is a human right.
The Freedom Arts Expo has been funded in part by Philanthropy at PNC.
After Sessions take place after schools dismiss on Mondays and Wednesdays providing 30 K-12th graders with a safe, nurturing space and teachers for arts learning, community arts training, and academic support. After getting a meal and free time, scholars work with tutors and teaching artists to achieve academic and artistic goals. Since 2014, dozens of young people living in systemically under-resourced areas have received access to a safe space for homework help, academic enrichment, and arts education. Our team has empowered and equipped 100% of our scholars to bring their reading skills up to grade level with 30% now reading above grade level. Additionally, 100% of our scholars have shown drastic improvement in their mental math fluency and writing skills. Enrollment is free, compensation for youth is available, transportation to most schools and parts of the city is included.
This program has been generously supported by The St. Louis Community Foundation, The Pettus Foundation, LinkedSelling and Siteman Family Charitable.
In the middle of a global pandemic and rampant injustice, we honored our mission and the stated needs of our community by starting a school. 2020 brought the inaugural year for the Freedom Arts Academy: a free, hybrid microschool based in the arts, faith, and Black culture. Our staff developed a decolonized curriculum with our youth that is rooted in their identity and goals to serve their wholistic mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Thanks to generous funders and grantmakers, all scholars received the needed technology for virtual learning for the heavily quarantined 2020-2021 school year. Our scholars earned an 87% grade average and 90% attendance average. Creative output, academic skills, and spiritual consciousness grew for each and every one of us. In the 2021-2022 school year, the majority of our scholars returned to their public and charter schools. Freedom Arts Academy continues to operate as an alternative, independent method of earning a high school diploma for a small number of our high school scholars.
This program has been generously supported by The St. Louis Community Foundation, LinkedSelling and Siteman Family Charitable.
"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." -Frederick Douglass
Freedom Readers strengthens the literacy skills of youth living in systemically divested areas by developing a library of highly engaging, developmentally appropriate, and culturally relevant books. Scholars read with tutors and mentors during our After Sessions program, receive the support and guidance needed to improve literacy, and are awarded books to take home to grow their own personal libraries. They are working to improve their reading speed, the frequency of reading, their understanding of what they have read, and making reading commonplace in their homes. This program thrives on the generosity of individuals and groups willing to make both book and financial donations.
This program has been supported by The Assistance League of St. Louis and Usborne Books, as well as by many generous individuals.
Tembea Haki means “walk righteous” in Swahili. The brokenness and hopelessness often found in our community is battled in part by the tenacity to ascribe to our Creator and the call to righteous living. We believe that righteous living is critical to healing and wholeness, and that reconciliation to our Creator and Savior and is exhibited when we put the teaching of Jesus into action. In Tembea Haki, enrolled scholars work with their mentors to learn how to live righteously. By studying the Bible, praying and encouraging one another, and serving our community, we learn to stride towards justice, speak the truth in love, and live humbly. By building a community of unity and faith, we learn together how to put our hope in God and our scholars come to see that they are the true change agents our city desperately needs. Scholars enrolled in this program receive compensation for their time and efforts as they serve their community and reflect on their daily disciplines.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33)
“We desire to bequeath two things to our children. The first one is roots; the other one is wings.”
“Wanafunzi” is the Swahili word for a student, a committed disciple of a person, principle, or path. Within Freedom Arts, we challenge our scholars to commit to a life of disciplined artistic, academic, and spiritual practice. As young people living in systemically divested areas and subjected to ongoing racism and classism, it’s deeply important for them to know they are loved, special, deserving, and capable of amazing things. They need to know that they are created in the image of God and are no less than anyone else. They need to know that someone will be there to support, guide, coach, teach and encourage them. One-on-one discipleship not only connects each of our scholars to a mentor who will show and teach them these things, but it also creates a safe space for our scholars to share their hopes, dreams, doubts, and struggles. Scholars enrolled in this program receive set aside, ongoing one-on-one time with our staff for close counsel and support, and receive first choice for work opportunities and organizational input.
“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’” (Galatians 5:13-14).
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