Supporting a More Creative and Equitable World
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When we reincorporated as a Public Benefit Corporation in September of 2015 we spelled out a number of commitments in our PBC Charter. Among them was a pledge to donate 5% of our after-tax profit towards arts and music education, and to organizations fighting to end systemic inequality.
We’ll deliver our first annual benefit statement outlining how we’re approaching each of those commitments beginning in 2017. But we wanted to start supporting awesome organizations working to build a more creative and equitable world right away.
We recently made donations to four outstanding organizations with very different but complementary approaches to realizing that mission. We think they're all doing incredible work, and want to take a moment to shine a spotlight on them.
Over the course of 24 years, Art Start has established a nationally recognized model for using the creative arts to transform young, at-risk lives. Through daily creative workshops designed to build resilience and encourage personal development, Art Start's team of artists and educators work with marginalized youth going through challenging transitions. Kids living on the streets, in city shelters, and involved in court cases are provided invaluable opportunities for creative self-discovery through music, visual, and performing arts education.
Drive Change is an inspired nonprofit that runs an award-winning food truck as a tool to teach transferable skills, and broaden access to opportunity for young people coming home from jail and prison. By providing year-long fellowships and employment training to formerly incarcerated youth, Drive Change gives opportunities to young New Yorkers impacted by a criminal justice system plagued with inequality. New York is one of only two states that treats all youths as adults when they turn 16 — a policy that causes countless young people to face extreme difficulties and barriers to opportunity. Drive Change helps right that wrong by creating preferential employment options for its Fellows.
Ghetto Film School (GFS) educates, develops and celebrates the next generation of American storytellers, serving 1,000 talented, diverse individuals every year. Based in the South Bronx, New York and MacArthur Park, Los Angeles, GFS serves its community in two ways: pre-professional, narrative filmmaking education, and an early career talent pipeline for opportunities in the creative and media sectors. By emphasizing storytelling at the intersection of art, business and education, GFS gives young artists the skills necessary to build sustainable careers and live a creative life. GFS began developing its model in 2000 with the Fellows Program, a rigorous immersion in cinematic storytelling that provides high school students in New York City and Los Angeles County with 1,000+ hours of hands-on training and instruction from leading filmmakers and industry professionals that develop broad-based 21st century skills.
Youth Represent is a holistic youth defense and advocacy nonprofit serving NYC. Each year they help more than 1,000 people reclaim their lives as they make the journey from courtroom to community. Youth represent addresses the entire reentry process — from legal representation, counseling, housing, and employment services, to policy and advocacy work aimed at healing a juvenile sentencing system that disfavors previously incarcerated youth.
In our search for organizations addressing systemic inequality and providing arts and music education for underserved children, we discovered a number of incredible teams. These four stood out to us, and we’re proud to stand with them. Our 5% pledge is an annual commitment. But seeing so many creative approaches to pushing the world forward each and every day is a true inspiration.