Youth Arts Initiative

About the research

In 2014, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota embarked on an exciting arts learning journey in partnership with the Wallace Foundation and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Our organization was one of only three Boys & Girls Clubs in the nation to be selected to participate in the Youth Arts Initiative pilot program and implement the 10 Success Principles for High Quality Arts Programming, based on the Something to Say report. We selected four art forms based on youth feedback, including dance and fashion design at the Eastside Club, and visual arts and digital music and video production at the Southside Club. Professional artists with experience in youth development were hired to launch these programs, using only the 10 Success Principles as a framework for curriculum.

Four years after implementing the Youth Arts Initiative, Research for Action (RFA) found that each of the new programs met all the Something to Say principles. Among their achievements:

  • 96 to 100% of participants agreed that the professional teaching artists were very good at the art forms they taught.
  • 95 to 100% agreed that the teaching artist expected them to do their best.
  • 86 to 98% reported that studios made them excited about the art.
  • 89 to 97% felt safe in class.

Furthermore, RFA found that YAI participants keep going to the Club longer than other Club members, and they attend more often.  In fact, 48% of participants had a tenure of more than 2 years at the Club. Youth also reported experiencing opportunities for 21st century skill development frequently in their classes. Clearly, these statistics show that Youth Arts Initiative is making a substantial impact on the youth served – youth who would otherwise be unable to access high quality arts programming in our community, due to many barriers, including financial, transportation, lack of emotional safety, and more.

Click here to view the full report from Wallace Foundation, Raising the Barre and Stretching the Canvas.

About our arts programs

Visual Arts at the Southside Club – 1205 6th Avenue South, St. Cloud

Generation Voice visual arts classes focus on building a strong foundation of 2-D design, drawing, color theory, vocabulary, art history, mixed media, and painting. Courses will end with a culminating event where artists can exhibit their works and practice their vocabulary when interpreting their works to others.

Digital Music & Video Production at the Southside Club – 1205 6th Avenue South, St. Cloud

Cloud Squad Digital Music & Video program focuses on using current technology to encourage youth to turn their love for music into a hobby or even a potential career in the music industry. Youth will learn to use programs like Garage Band to develop their own beats and produce their own music videos.

Dance at the Eastside Club – 320 Raymond Avenue North East, St. Cloud

Eastside Edge Dance Company focuses on creating well-rounded dance artists. Skill development classes consist of warm-ups, technique lessons, phrase-work, and composition activities; with a thoughtful balance between providing dancers with the technical tools of the art form, as well as a structured environment for creative expression.

Visual Arts & Sewing at the Eastside Club – 320 Raymond Avenue North East, St. Cloud
Visual Arts at the Roosevelt Club – 345 30th Avenue North, St. Cloud

Visual arts & sewing students will learn about textile arts, and various design, drawing, mixed media, painting hand and machine sewing. Students will also learn about color theory, vocabulary, and they will participate in culminating events to exhibit their artwork

We invite you to tour Youth Arts Initiative programs to see these amazing studios for yourself and to learn more about how the Youth Arts Initiative is transforming lives. Please contact us at or 320-252-7616 for more information.

Special thanks to the many sponsors who make Youth Arts Initiative possible, including:

  • Mike & Karel Helgeson
  • Wallace Foundation & BGCA
  • Dick & Mimi Bitzan
  • McDowall Company – John & Cherie McDowall
  • Dorothy C. Becker Fund
  • Central Minnesota Arts Board
  • Central Minnesota Community Foundation
  • Mardag Foundation
  • Minnesota State Arts Board
  • Tammis Day Foundation
  • Matt & Aimee McDowall
  • Sandra Reese
  • Charlotte Stephens

Click here to support Boys & Girls Club’s Youth Arts Initiative now!

“This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Central MN Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.”