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What We Do

What We Do

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.


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 Arts was formed in 2002 by artists, youth development professionals and community leaders concerned about violence affecting underserved youth. And we’re built on the philosophy that art and design can be powerful tools for the empowerment and civic engagement among youth that will help the next generation build healthier, more sustainable communities.

Today, our program enables youth to earn a wage while:

  • Developing leadership skills and taking on mentorship roles within our studios;

  • Learning academic and professional skills through hands-on projects outside of a traditional classroom setting

  • Completing rigorous; complex projects that challenge them to solve problems creatively, work collaboratively, and develop strong social and emotional intelligences; and

  • Accessing human services like mental health supports and the Riverzedge Youth Supply Center, which offers foodstuffs and hygiene products for those in need.

Programs empower youth to focus on future goals with emphasis on diploma attainment or equivalent successful progress to the next step on their individual ladder to success. Participation throughout their high school years enables teens to meet high expectations, develop positive workplace habits and critical thinking practices, and connects them with external resources. Youth participants can access college preparation including application, FAFSA and scholarship support, and referrals to social service partners.

In November 2013, The Wallace Foundation cited Riverzedge Arts 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.

Riverzedge Arts 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). In 2020, Riverzedge Arts was profiled by the National Afterschool Alliance for its groundbreaking work helping youth attain academic credit through Expanded Learning Opportunities.