Every day after school, independent students voluntarily come to Workshop Houston to develop a meaningful creative practice, get the help they need to excel academically, and make the choice to become part of a positive peer community. Our goal is that students have the internal resources and external support they need to succeed in school and beyond, despite the challenges they may face. Through creative, technical, and academic accomplishment, students gain the confidence they need to take on more ambitious goals, build positive relationships, develop a stronger sense of identity, and increase their commitment to learning.
Our shops offer an innovative age-appropriate approach to art-making and education in fully equipped, specialized resource studios where young people access tools, materials, and instruction that are not available to them anywhere else. Our teaching staff are professionals in their mediums and employed full-time at Workshop Houston so that they can develop their studios and help students grow creatively and refine their practice and skills. They are motivated by the knowledge that our students have the opportunity break the cycle of poverty using the critical assets they develop through the arts, and the broadened perspective on creativity and education that Workshop Houston offers to its participants.
Workshop Houston’s programs serve at-risk middle and high school students. Most of the young people who participate in our programs are from the Third Ward, a predominantly African American community located just southeast of downtown Houston. The community is home to about 16,000 people residing in 5,200 households. Key statistics include the following:
- Approximately 45% of the adults living in the Third Ward have less than a high school education.
- 47% of the Third Ward population lives below the poverty level. The median household income is only about $17,000 per year.
- 91% of the students from this community qualify for free or reduced-price lunch at school.
- Four out of the five highest crime areas in Houston are located in the Third Ward.
In a community that faces such serious challenges, many young people are disengaged from traditional educational models and lack avenues for positive self-expression and recognition of self-worth. At Workshop Houston, we believe that the power of the arts can transform young people’s lives by providing a deep understanding of creative practice, of learning by doing, and through a holistic view of the role education plays in their lives. Many of the schools that our students attend offer limited opportunities for creative enrichment. Our programs address these gaps in resources by recognizing students’ need for self-expression and for accomplishments they can hear, touch, feel and see.