Workshop Houston was built on the belief that learning is more than just what happens in a classroom. Founded by four Oberlin College graduates in 2003 as a community bike repair shop, Workshop Houston has grown into a well-established youth development agency and important neighborhood resource. Using a hands-on, arts-based educational philosophy to respond to the needs of our community, we have served thousands of youth through after school and summer programs that help students to build technical skills, develop a meaningful creative practice, and gain academic confidence.
Today, the organization's unique studio/classrooms -- Beat Shop (music production), Dance Shop (dance/theatre), Style Shop (fashion/graphic design) and Scholar Shop (tutoring/academic enrichment) -- offer underserved young people activities that challenge the mind, stretch the imagination, and foster a love of knowledge and commitment to community. The "Shops" offer an innovative age-appropriate approach to education and the arts in fully equipped, specialized resource studios where young people access tools, materials, and instruction that are not available to them anywhere else. We are motivated by the knowledge that our students can break the cycle of poverty using the critical assets they develop through the broadened perspective on creativity and education that Workshop Houston offers to its participants.
To provide youth with creative, technical and educational resources.
To lay the groundwork for a just society by creating a community that provides youth with expanded opportunities and alternative definitions of success.
Communities are the primary social unit capable of progressive change; a community can create collective action while retaining the freedom of individual voices. Participating in a positive and engaged community that recognizes our interdependence and supports and mentors youth is the best way to inspire youth to reach their full potential.
The building blocks of communities working to change society are empowered and educated individuals. We define empowerment as individuals seeing change as a realisstic possiblity and having hte power to do what they believe is right. We find that the best way to prepare someone to create power for themselves is to provide opportunities for learning and creative expression and allow space for them to define and enact change for themselves and their communities.
Education as a Way of Life
We see education and the pursuit of knowledge as a central goal in life, as well as the best way to prepare youth to lead fulfilling lives and to inspire them to participate in positive communities. Through creative, hands-on, and self-directed projects we are able to engage youth in learning and show them that education can be relevant to their lives as well as be a vehicle for growth and change. Finally, we work to tie education to empowerment by teaching youth the critical skill of how to use information to make positive decisions.
We recognize that historic injustices are an important factor in creating the inequalities that exist in American economic, political, and educational systems. Our work seeks to both alleviate the critical problems these injustices create for youth, while at the same time defining and working towards a new society that is just for all people.
We affirm the dignity and worth of all people. Additionally, we celebrate and respect the variety of human culture. We strive to participate in a society that holds both of these values paramount.
Structure as Values
We recognize that in working to change society the structure of our organization must reflect the values of the community we wish to create, just as we must model the behavior we expect of our participants. With this knowledge we structure our organization around collectivity and collaboration which allows us to be inclusive, supportive, dynamic and innovative, all traits we desire in our community. We also work to continually improve ourselves by becoming more disciplined, accepting of change, better communicators and better educators.