My name is Lori Slager, and I am the sole owner of The Sparrows Coffee Tea & Newsstand, and a founding ArtPeers board member. I have a degree in Art Education from Calvin College, and have been an art teacher for Grandville Avenue Arts and Humanities for the last eight years.
My proposal for The Awesome Foundation is for the Creative Youth Center, which I have been working on for just over two years. Cecile Fehsenfeld (co-owner of Schuler Books) approached me about opening an after-school creative writing center in or near the Baxter neighborhood that would serve the area’s underprivileged youth between the ages of 6 and 18. I agreed to work with Cecile on the idea, and the Creative Youth Center project began.
The goal of the CYC is to empower area youth with the growth mindsets and creative capacities necessary to become successful adults. Through one-on-one attention and project-based learning in an inspiring, non-school environment, we will work to help local children find, develop, and share their voices.
We believe that making students published authors gives a tangible credibility to their accomplishments, which creates an empowered sense of self and an enthusiasm for developing their voices and unique communication skills. This will help them to become creative problem solvers and increase their chances of staying committed to education, in turn decreasing drop-out rates and improving positive participation in the classroom.
To move that belief to action, we will publish yearly collections of student work to be sold at local bookstores and other retail outlets.
The sense of accomplishment has already driven some really creative work from children in my workshops. For example, in two hours, a group of children can write a book together and have it illustrated and printed before walking out the door. The excitement over being “published” instantly helps grow their passion for writing - when they realize that their books are for sale in area bookstores, they truly see the value in their creative work.
When we open, the CYC will host story writing field trips for classes each day and will also send tutors to classrooms to help teachers achieve their “dream projects”. The CYC will also offer after school tutoring, and offer ESL classes during the summer. However, at the outset of launching the center, we plan to focus on the book publishing experience as a flagship program and provide students with other similar creative writing projects.
Financé par Grand Rapids, MI (November 2011)