Boys & Girls Club receives $15,000 from Mardag Foundation to support Youth Arts Initiative

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota received a $15,000.00 grant from Mardag Foundation to sustain and grow the Youth Arts Initiative through May 31, 2018. Funding from Mardag Foundation will be used to serve a minimum of 300 youth ages 10 and up in the areas of visual arts, digital arts, dance and fashion design.

The organization plans to use the 10 success principles to explore how the arts can provide healing for our young people and our community with activities inspiring and encouraging cultural harmony and peace. The Youth Arts Initiative is uniquely poised use the arts to build bridges of understanding among all young people in our community.

Some examples of programming include:

The Fashion Design and visual arts programs plan to partner with the Somali Museum of Minnesota to explore Somali textile arts. Final projects will be on display at the River’s Edge Convention Center and throughout St. Cloud. Fashion designers will then spend time celebrating each of their respective cultures through fashion.

The digital arts program is partnering with the Paramount Center for the Arts to increase understanding of the Muslim culture through music. Somali artists have worked with Club youth to help them write lyrical performances for peace in their neighborhoods. This year, the artist mentor plans to guide the youth in the further development of lyricism for hope and peace.

The dance program will partner with CSB/SJU Fine Arts Programming to expose youth to all forms of dance, highlighting African, Latin and other cultures. The youth and the artists will use these influences to inform their choreography.

The visual arts program plans to continue to explore visual arts for healing and cultural understanding through projects like the “We Are One” exhibit currently on display at River’s Edge Convention Center, which features statements about unity written by the youth along with pictorial representations of their writing.

All art forms host respective culminating events throughout the year to showcase the youth’s hard work. The art forms will come together for the Youth Arts Initiative’s holiday showcase at the Eastside Boys & Girls Club in December and the spring showcase next May at the Paramount Center for the Arts.

“Being involved in the arts enables youth at the Boys & Girls Club to discover their unique talents and creativity,” said Mimi Bitzan, Boys & Girls Club Board Member.  “They learn to work together and seek constructive feedback on their ideas. These kids are building community and cultural understanding by using the arts to express their vision of how our world can be better, stronger and more connected. We are thankful for this opportunity from Mardag Foundation to continue to expand and deepen our arts programming.”

“Mardag Foundation believes in the power of the arts to give youth a voice,” said Mardag Foundation Program Officer Sharon DeMark. “Boys & Girls Club’s Youth Arts Initiative is a great example of how at-risk youth can connect with their community through the arts and find a voice for change and for peace. Mardag Foundation is proud to support Boys & Girls Club in this endeavor.”

For more information about the programs and services provided by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota, please visit the website: or contact the Club at 320-252-7616.


About Mardag Foundation:

For nearly 50 years, the Mardag Foundation has invested in nonprofit organizations that improve the quality of life in Minnesota for children, seniors and other at-risk populations, and for programs in education and arts.

Born Agnes Dagmar Maas Elmer in 1887, the founder of the Mardag Foundation experienced profound poverty after the death of her mother when she was just six. Her charitable spirit was rooted in her experiences and stayed with her even as her fortunes changed with the marriage to Saint Paul businessman Edgar Ober.

Agnes understood that few people face the depth of poverty she endured as a child, and that experience was never far from her memory no matter how great her wealth in later years. She and her husband, Edgar, were deeply involved in serving the community.

Today Agnes’ legacy lives on through the work of the Mardag Foundation, who strive to ensure a good life for the youth and at-risk in our community.


About the Boys & Girls Club:

In every community, boys and girls are left to find their own recreation and companionship in the streets. An increasing number of children are at home with no adult care or supervision. Young people need to know that someone cares about them.

Since 1974, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota has provided hope and opportunity to tens of thousands of young people. Our programs and services promote and enhance the development of boys and girls by instilling a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging and influence.

More than 25 nationally tested and proven programs are available in the areas of education, the environment, health, the arts, careers, drug and alcohol prevention, leadership development, and athletics. These programs address today’s most pressing youth issues teaching young people the skills they need to succeed in life.

Mission Statement: The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.