Our History

One day in 2005, a group of boys from Providence’s Hope High School found their way to the basement of a Rhode Island School Design building at 20 Washington Place. Their struggling school had been placed under state control because of its low performance and high dropout rates, and the boys, who craved an artistic outlet, had heard something about an after-school program at RISD.

“I have such a vivid memory of those sophomore students kind of wandering in on their own and saying, ‘Hey, can we join?’” says Professor Paul Sproll, head of RISD’s Department of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design (TLAD). Professor Sproll typically teaches graduate students, but back in 2005 he had volunteered for a semester at the invitation of an art teacher to teach and after-school studio for students attending Feinstein High School, another low-performing Providence public school. It was this program that the Hope students had caught wind of and with their request Sproll says“that’s when we knew we had something – something that could be really meaningful” both for artistically talented but under-served teens in the city's public schools and especially for RISD students interested in matters of public engagement and social change through the visual arts.

Our Goals

  1. To provide under-served teens attending urban public and charter high schools with opportunities to develop their artistic skills.
  2. To encourage teens to graduate from high school.
  3. To help prepare teens to enroll in post-secondary education by offering guidance on college selection and preparation of college applications, especially portfolio preparation for art and design college programs.
  4. To provide RISD MA & MAT students an authentic learning site that serves as a foundation for professional practices that will engage in social justice and community arts endeavors.
  5. To provide RISD students, faculty, staff and alumni a platform for community engagement.