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Impactful afterschool art program that partners with public libraries to empower kids, one paintbrush at a time


Pittsburgh, United States
ProjectArt establishes public libraries as enriching local spaces where youth engage in free afterschool visual art classes. We aim to facilitate the development of students’ self esteem, critical thinking skills, and encourage them to form connections with peers and community. Local artists who teach and mentor our students create an environment ripe for success inside and outside the classroom.

Create, Connect, Thrive

Introduction written by: Matthew Miller, Pittsburgh Programs Director
“Pittsburgh has a long history of celebrating and cultivating creativity and we are proud to welcome ProjectArt to our education and non-profit networks, a special thanks goes to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and all of the partners involved with ProjectArt for their continued investment and commitment to unleash the power of creativity in every child throughout Pittsburgh and beyond. — William Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh ”

Introduction written by: Matthew Miller, Pittsburgh Programs Director

ProjectArt believes in the power of creativity and the potential of every child. We utilize visual arts to amplify the voices of communities often silenced through educational budget cuts and socioeconomic hardship. ProjectArt was founded in New York in 2011 and expanded to Pittsburgh in 2017, providing over 1,000 hours of arts instruction at six public libraries in Pittsburgh over the course of just two years.

ProjectArt is a scalable program that provides free afterschool art classes to students ages 4-18 over the course of the academic school year. Our partnership with the public library systems has allowed ProjectArt to hire local artists to teach 45 students at each library, split into three one-hour classes of 15 students that are broken down by age group (4-7, 8-12, 13-18). Classes are taught on a weekly basis, and culminate in a resident teaching artist and student exhibitions to celebrating the students’ creativity and artistic achievements.

During the last eight years, ProjectArt has provided hundreds of children and teens in under-resourced communities a space to express themselves creatively and overcome social barriers, with the goal to help them grow as thoughtful and empowered adults. Research shows that sustained access to high-quality arts learning opportunities can have an inestimable impact on children’s lives. An essential part of STEAM and 21st-century learning, the long-term positive impact of arts education stretch beyond the classroom to help students thrive. From increased self-esteem and improved social skills to students feeling more connected to their community, ProjectArt’s impact is tangible.

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Innovation Overview
4 - 18
Age Group
Tips for implementation
You will need a space in a public library to create art, a variety of art materials of your choosing that could range from paints to pastels, a comprehensive and age-appropriate social and emotional learning-focused curriculum, dedicated local artists to teach students, and help from library staff to ensure that the students are receiving high quality and enriching arts education. ProjectArt can easily facilitate this process as it has valuable long-term partnerships with public library systems in each of the six cities in which it currently offers its program.
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See this innovation in action

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Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

Do you have a public library?
ProjectArt strives to enhance public libraries by bringing them free afterschool art programs to offer youth in their community. Unused library space is ideal for offering youth afterschool programming as libraries are highly accessible.
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Identify if your city schools provide art education
ProjectArt is geared toward children who do not receive any arts education at school. We focus on instilling creative confidence in youth while providing local emerging artists with an opportunity to teach and pass on their knowledge and passion for the arts.
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Is there a low-income population?
ProjectArt aims to empower youth, artists, and communities in under-resourced areas through enriching art classes. ProjectArt is 100% free for our students, their families, and our libraries.
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Contact us! Email: info@projectart.org
Learn more about ProjectArt by checking out our website at projectart.org and by reaching out to our friendly staff by emailing info@projectart.org with any questions. ProjectArt is eager to help as many youths reap the long-term benefits of quality arts education.
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ProjectArt staff will conduct background research. Then, in partnership with you, we will conduct and begin outreach to community leaders, libraries, and schools to gain further insight.
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Program Launch!
After our comprehensive assessment and outreach, ProjectArt will propose a partnership with the city’s local library system and launch a new chapter!
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