In the picture attached, you'll see Clyde, age 15, pitching his design idea to a local business leader. And he's the kid who doesn't make a peep in class. Low-income New Orleans teens are not exposed to digital media training that will prepare them to compete in the creative tech economy. Young Creative Agency is a youth design studio that pays teens across socio-economic boundaries a fair wage to work on real client work under the guidance of experienced mentors; teens are empowered by the process of project-based learning, mentorship, client conferencing, and a fair hourly wage, while clients receive a polished product that reflects their investment in the future of New Orleans’ youth and creative economy. This fall we launched at the same school as a provider in the after-school program, 3 days a week, with ten students, one consistent and two adjunct volunteer professional design mentors. We have successfully completed four commissions, earned $350, $150 of which went directly to students, and have a waiting list of 10 clients, before any concerted marketing of our services. Through survey responses and mentor evaluations, we found that all participating youth improved their skills in Adobe software, time management, and communication. YCA is poised for future success with partnerships with YAYA and Youth Empowerment Project in the fall but we need to keep momentum going this summer. We look to continue this awesome programming for youth with a Summer Design Intensive in which we delve deeper into teaching foundational skills in design, and continue to use commissions as the authentic project-based learning opportunities that motivate deep growth academically and professionally! Students like Clyde need opportunities for meaningful employment where their economic security is the result of their individual creativity-- this accelerates their pathways to fulfilling careers and a more equitable civic landscape.
Funded by New Orleans, LA (July 2015)