Youth Spirit Artworks (YSA) is an interfaith “green” art jobs and job training program located in Berkeley, California which is committed to empowering homeless and low-income San Francisco Bay Area young people, ages 16-25.
YSA was founded in 2007, as a response to the enormous employment challenges of older homeless and low-income youth, by one of the initiators of the Alameda County Homeless Youth Collaborative, who had observed first hand at the Telegraph Avenue Homeless Youth Drop-In Center the unmet needs of transition age youth for jobs and jobs training programs.
The mission of Youth Spirit Artworks is to use art jobs and jobs training to empower and transform the lives of youth, giving young people the skills, experience, and self-confidence needed to meet their full potential. YSA is modeled after the renowned New Orleans based-youth organization, Young Aspirations, Young Artists (YaYa) which has involved 1000’s of young people in commercial arts jobs and job training for more than twenty years.
Youth Spirit’s broad goals are to:
- teach youth specific vocational skills related to commercial arts and entrepreneurship;
- provide youth with an income from jobs training and sales of art;
- support youth reaching their personal and professional life goals;
- help youth learn to budget and manage their money;
- build youth self-confidence and promote experiences of personal transformation;
- model for youth experiences of healthy family and community relationship;
- build and promote youth commitment to personal health and wholeness, including a commitment to nonviolence;
- teach youth about their power and ability to change the world.
Youth Spirit currently carries out its work through two paid jobs training program areas, Commercial Arts Entrepreneurship, involving youth in creating art to sell and making 50% of the proceeds from sale of their art; and Community Art, engaging young people in neighborhood revitalization through creation of murals, tile projects and other public art.