Riverzedge Arts uses innovative applied and work-based learning strategies to teach art, design, and critical thinking to the youth of northern RI, providing our participants as well as our community with a path to economic and cultural sustainability.
Riverzedge was formed in 2002 by artists, youth development professionals and community leaders concerned about patterns of violence among disaffected youth in the wake of the Columbine shootings. Riverzedge is built on the philosophy that art is a powerful force for social change, and that creative entrepreneurship through the arts is a productive and life-changing opportunity for teens. Today, our program areas enable youth to: 1) develop leadership skills, 2) complete rigorous independent projects and create complex works for clients and community partners that challenge them to work collaboratively and develop high level emotional, behavioral and cognitive skills; 3) solve problems creatively and overcome obstacles to complete projects through multi-process execution and assessment; and 4) develop emotional intelligence and maturity over long-term participation with wraparound support and built-in incentives for high engagement and achievement.
Programs empower youth to focus on future goals, with support for diploma attainment, and successful progress to the next step on their individual ladder to success. Depth programming predicated on a large number of contact hours with caring mentors/role models, and high engagement in rigorous, hands-on endeavors, support the practice of cooperation, goal orientation, emotional regulation and high-end process to product completion. The competitive art and design marketplace acts as a talent and youth development driver. Participation throughout their high school years enables teens to meet high expectations, make good choices, develop internal controls, character and fortitude, and connects them with external resources through stipends, credit, college preparation including application, FAFSA and scholarship support, and referrals as needed to social service partners.
Riverzedge has garnered national attention and awards for the academic success and artistic achievements of our youth, and for our consistent performance and innovative approaches to youth development.
In November 2013, The Wallace Foundation cited Riverzedge as one of 8 exemplary organizations nationwide in their research on out-of-school time arts programs for low-income urban teens. Their report, Something to Say: Success Principles for Afterschool Arts Programs from Urban Youth and Other Experts, highlights our use of peer-driven practices to embrace the social nature of teens, reliance on professional artists as mentors, and embedded supportive systems to promote social and emotional growth as well as artistic achievement. A video on our work can be found at wallacefoundation.org/somethingtosay.
Riverzedge also was awarded a President’s Council on the Arts and the Humanities National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award in 2010 (1 of 15), and a MetLife/Afterschool Alliance Afterschool Innovator Award in 2009 (1 of 6).