Rising Dallas Leaders Bring Artistic Expression Opportunities to Homeless Youth Shelter

This spring, After8toEducate partnered with the 2020 class of Leadership Arts Institute to add creative expression elements at the Fannie C. Harris Youth Center. Business Council for the Arts offers the Leadership Arts Institute (LAI), founded 32 years ago by Dallas philanthropist and global art collector Raymond D. Nasher. Each class engages in a service project to learn about the community and create a long-lasting impact on North Texas.

The project, Creating Opportunities for Artistic Expression, brought several components to the residential services wing at the center. The Fannie C. Harris Youth Center includes an emergency youth center and a transitional living program for unsheltered high school students in Dallas Independent School District. A special thank you to project Co-Chairs Arielle Tobin, Kristin Cope, and Lydia Webb for their work leading this effort.

“We believe that art has the power to encourage and empower, so we’re honored to be able to bring art to this residential youth center in the forms of a podcast studio and related storytelling programming for the students, an art corner for personal art expression, and inspiring art to enliven the space,” explained project co-chair Kristin Cope of the Dallas-based international law firm Baker Botts.

The project included:

  • Outfitting the podcast booth and funding a full two years of storytelling programming with OutLoud
  • Furnishing an art corner, where students can express themselves and create meaningful art
  • Colorful and inspiring art installations around the center

Creative expression is not only a positive force in the lives of students experiencing homelessness, but research has shown it as vital to survival for street-involved youth. After8toEducate Interim Executive Director Billy Lane explained the significance of the project: “This will help amplify the voices of these young people who are experiencing homelessness, giving them a creative outlet to further enrich their lives as they move toward housing and stability.”

We are grateful to LAI class of 2020 for bringing installations and programs to support the well-being of youth at the Fannie C. Harris Youth Center.

The creative nook includes a large white board with colorful markers and decals with prompts for conversation and creativity.
The payphone installation includes six unique spoken word youth stories. As students at the residential facility participate in storytelling programming with OutLoud, their voices will be added to the device.

Local artists created unique pieces for the residential services wing. Click the images above to view the artwork in the library, residential areas, and on the stairs.