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.
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 three paid jobs training program areas: Fine Art Program involves youth in creating original artwork made of traditional, recycled, and reused materials. Community Art Program, engaging young people in neighborhood revitalization through the creation of murals, tile projects and other public art. And Art Entrepreneurship and Sales, helps youth participate in the marketing and sales of original and reproduced art. Learn more about our programs.
Youth Spirit Artworks was founded in 2007, by Sally Hindman, an exuberant and dedicated longtime Berkeley resident. Sally has over twenty years of management and nonprofit experience, primarily working with homeless people. She received her M.A. in Theology and Art and her M. Div. from Pacific School of Religion. Sally is an adjunct faculty member at the Graduate Theological Union Center for Art, Religion, and Education and Starr King School for the Ministry teaching “Liberation Art.” Sally is the co-founder of Street Spirit, the San Francisco East Bay homeless newspaper. The publication started in 1995 and is circulated on a monthly basis. It is a cornerstone of homeless activism and advocacy in the East Bay. In 1998 she received KPFA radio’s Alice Hamburg Community Service Award for her outstanding leadership in serving homeless people in the East Bay. Sally has been an active member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) since 1984. Prior to founding YSA, she served as executive director of Berkeley California’s interfaith Chaplaincy to the Homeless.
But YSA was not built by one woman alone! A group of experienced and dedicated people served as the founding Advisory Board. Some of these marvelous leaders include Maheesh Jain, founding President, Lauren Snider-Brandt, founding Secretary, Lila McDonald and Nishan Ardon, who worked very hard on our graphics and marketing materials. Berkeley City Council Member Max Anderson has assisted us in securing funding from the City of Berkeley and from other sources and has been a tremendous all around supporter of YSA’s vision and development.
The idea of combining artistic and entrepreneurial skills, as well as utilizing young people’s creative energy to contribute to community revitalization came from Sally’s direct involvement with young people in the streets. As one of the initiators of the Alameda County Homeless Youth Collaborative, Sally 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. She saw the need for a place where young people would be able to experience stability and kindness, as well as opportunities for growth and learning that was relevant to the challenges they faced daily. Sally saw the need for young people to learn hands-on business skills through creative modalities. She knew the value of supportive peer community and believed in the power of utilizing art to unleash young people’s energy and drive to contribute and succeed.
Sally envisioned a place where homeless and at-risk youth could come to create and sell art, learn job skills, and contribute to their neighborhoods through community revitalization art projects. Thus Youth Spirit Artworks was born.