SAINT LOUIS STORY STITCHERS ARTISTS COLLECTIVE ANNOUNCES PLANS TO OPEN THE CENTER FOR YOUTH ARTS AND TECHNOLOGY AT KRANZBERG ARTS FOUNDATION
New Center for Underserved Youth by Saint Louis Story Stitchers will support holistic music and arts education programs
Saint Louis Story Stitchers, St. Louis, MO – Saint Louis Story Stitchers is a nationally recognized Artists Collective known for high quality art and innovative youth violence prevention programs.
In December 2022, Story Stitchers will open The Center for Youth Arts and Technology (The Center) in Grand Center at the Kranzberg Arts Foundation’s 3701 Grandel Square facility (4,550 square feet) to expand youth services, partnerships, and community reach, helping to prevent community violence by intervening before it begins. Youth are heavily involved in the development of the nonprofit organization and feel strong ownership of it; it is the youth who determined the need for The Center and have championed for it to become a reality. The Center is supported in part by the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, where Saint Louis Story Stitchers is a resident arts organization.
Youth who have experienced support from Story Stitchers creative youth development programs have determined that creating a pilot facility, called The Center, will provide underserved teens and young adults with needed resources, including safe spaces to gather, friends that are anti-violence, culturally relevant mentors, youth stipends, and opportunities to speak out and serve as community leaders while gaining skills in organizing, listening, public speaking and leadership, thus aiding youth in lifting themselves up into productive employment and healthier adulthood, proactively reducing crime with community violence intervention.
The Center is supported in part by a 2021 $500,000 Accelerator Award to Saint Louis Story Stitchers from The Lewis Prize for Music, a philanthropic music arts organization advancing systems change through creative youth development. Funding gives young people access to music education, strengthens the well-being of their communities and puts music at the center of efforts to establish equity. Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective is using funds from The Lewis Prize for Music award to establish The Center and to grow its administrative and fundraising capacity.
Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective is announcing today that it received $25,000 in grant funding from the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a program of the Obama Foundation. The funding is part of the MBK Alliance’s Freedom Summer 2022 Fund. The Center Cabinet, formed by Story Stitchers to bring youth voices into planning for The Center, will employ a group of 12 young men ages 16-24 to hold planning meetings with meals, plan, select, and purchase furnishings for interior spaces in The Center and related youth programs around media arts, healing, and music.
“We are excited to announce that Saint Louis Story Stitchers is the recipient of an @MBKAlliance Freedom Summer 2022 Fund grant! Saint Louis Story Stitchers’ programs currently engage youth and adults who are 50% male and 99% people of color, 98% Black,” said Susan Colangelo, founding president and executive director of Saint Louis Story Stitchers. “Through our unique program and the opening of The Center focused on excellence in music and the arts, youth leadership, and outreach through community service, Story Stitchers is building a program that also effectively represents evidence-based practices in youth violence prevention while nourishing the leaders of tomorrow. Through our work towards The Center, we accepted @MBKAlliance’s charge for community organizations to reinforce and support youth leadership in The Center Cabinet, to create safe spaces for boys and young men of color this fall. We will use our grant to continue our work by supporting boys and young men to engage in planning interior spaces and purchasing furnishings and technology to support planned activities.”
“The efforts of community organizations are often stifled due to limited financial resources. In line with its mission, the MBK Alliance is committed to ensuring community-based organizations have tools and resources to create safe spaces for boys and young men of color to play, convene, and learn. “I am so proud to support organizations committed to the safety and protection of our boys and young men of color,” said Dr. Adren Wilson, MBK Alliance Executive Director. “The Freedom Summer 2022 Fund will empower grant recipients to pour resources, opportunity, hope, and love into our young boys during a time when they need it most. The MBK Alliance will continue its longstanding commitment to working with community-based organizations to create a brighter, more promising future–not just for our boys and young men of color–but for our country.”
Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective is composed of professional artists and underrepresented and underserved youth ages 16-24, working together to create social change with a focus on gun violence prevention. Stitchers collect stories, reframe and retell them through art, writing and performance to promote understanding, civic pride, intergenerational relationships and literacy. Projects create a platform for community engagement through an artistic lens and with it the Saint Louis Story Stitchers work to shift perceptions and realities and bring hope to the Saint Louis community.
Saint Louis Story Stitchers and its partners provide young people with platforms for turning their creative efforts into personal strengths and community transformations. Whether performing at neighborhood festivals, participating in mural and creative placemaking initiatives or podcasting from its Stitchcast Studio, the young artists of Saint Louis Story Stitchers translate the complexities of what they experience into accessible and affirming narratives.
Major projects in 2022/23 include:
- Pick the City UP dance battles and public and in-school performances
- Perception Isn’t Always Reality are public service announcement campaign projects – this year boosting vaccine confidence for the CDC Foundation and preventing unintentional shootings for the St. Louis Area Violence Prevention Commission and St. Louis Mental Health Board
- Not Another One! Publications promoting education on responsible and safe police-teen interaction
- Peace in the Prairie creating awareness of the effects of trauma from violence and the healing resources of exposure to nature in Missouri’s public lands through outdoor excursions and public performances
- StitchCast Studio creating a platform for youth-led discussions on topics of importance to youth and published on major podcast platforms nation-wide
- The WHY of MY City exploring St. Louis’s Black neighborhoods and historic spaces
Saint Louis Story Stitchers differs from other programs in the region in that it is youth-led, directly addressing the difficult issues that impact their daily lives. Youth have the opportunity to define topics of their work, listen and ask questions of other local youth, as well as invite and discuss difficult topics through their StitchCast Studio podcast (such as COVID-19, suicide, trauma, gun violence, homelessness, bullying, domestic violence, and poverty) with local experts. New episodes are published each month to storystitchers.org, Spotify and apple podcast. Each episode of StitchCast Studio includes Pick the City UP art interludes which are original works of art and music by Saint Louis Story Stitchers that are recorded in studio and also performed throughout the region.
About The Kranzberg Arts Foundation
The Kranzberg Arts Foundation is committed to providing the essential infrastructure necessary for the arts to thrive in the St. Louis community. Through the development of performing arts venues, visual arts galleries, free music programs, and work spaces for non-profit arts organizations, the Foundation creates opportunities for and nurtures the growth of artists, while working with emerging and leading arts organizations to engage with St. Louis’s diverse community in ways that are relevant, inclusive, and inspiring. For more information, visit www.kranzbergartsfoundation.org.
About The Lewis Prize for Music
The Lewis Prize for Music believes that music in the lives of young people is a catalytic force to drive positive change in our society. It partners with leaders in diverse and vibrant communities who invest in young people by providing access to safe, inclusive spaces where they can build powerful relationships through music.
The organization is the brainchild of philanthropist Daniel R. Lewis, who has spent the last 19 years focusing on philanthropic efforts in the social and musical arts field, including founding the Miami Music Access Fellowship, serving as the founding chairman of The Cleveland Orchestra Miami Residency/Miami Music Association, chairman of the Spring For Music Festival and chairman of The Management Center. Learn more at www.thelewisprize.org.
Saint Louis Story Stitchers StitchCast Studio LIVE! is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. On the web at arts.gov.
Support for Saint Louis Story Stitchers is also provided by a 5-year $500,000 award from The Lewis Prize for Music Accelerator Award.
Additional support for StitchCast Studio and Story Stitchers arts and humanities programs was provided by a 3-year $100,000 award from the Spirit of St. Louis Women’s Fund, City of St. Louis Youth at Risk Crime Prevention grant of 2022, Lush Corporation’s The Charity Pot, St. Louis Area Violence Prevention Commission and St. Louis Mental Health Board, Kranzberg Arts Foundation, Missouri Arts Council, Regional Arts Commission, March for Our Lives Aid & Alliance, The Equity Impact Award from the Bezos Family Foundation and Creative Reaction Lab, and the Arts & Education Council, Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts (VLAA), My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a program of the Obama Foundation, Freedom Summer 2022 Fund, and by generous individuals like you.
About Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective
Saint Louis Story Stitchers is a nationally recognized Artists Collective known for high quality art and innovative youth violence prevention programs.
The 501(c)(3) organization is located in the City of St. Louis, Missouri. Our mission is to document Saint Louis through art and word to promote understanding, civic pride, intergenerational relationships, and literacy.
Artists work alongside 16–24-year-old underrepresented youth who are 98% Black and living in underserved areas of the St. Louis region to collect stories, reframe and retell them using the arts and storytelling to promote a better educated, more peaceful and caring society.
Saint Louis Story Stitchers current focus is aimed at addressing pressing public health issues including gun violence through contemporary storytelling. Projects create a platform for community engagement through an artistic lens and with it the Saint Louis Story Stitchers work to shift perceptions and realities and bring hope to the Saint Louis community.
Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective Website: https://storystitchers.org/