$7,500 Match Grant will double your gift!

Donate by Nov. 15 to make your donation do more! Every dollar you donate to Art Buddies during our 2015 Match Challenge (Nov. 1-15) will be matched up to our $7,500 goal, thanks to the generosity of our two challenge grant sponsors, Mi Mi Design and The Edward R. Bazinet Foundation.

In addition to our Match Challenge, donations made by Nov. 12 will also qualify for Give to the Max Day incentives for the chance to make your gift do even MORE!


To learn more about the difference your donation will make, read what experts say about Art Buddies.

Thank you for helping Art Buddies bring the power of creative mentoring to hundreds of underprivileged kids each year!

What experts say about Art Buddies

The people who work with the kids every day — their teachers, supervisors and parents — confirm the positive impact of Art Buddies. Over the years, here is what they’ve told us:

Art Buddies empowers kids.

Teachers tell us that by forming a positive relationship with a creative mentor, someone who nurtures their spirits, the kids experience a big boost in self-esteem.

Davonte, a boy with a rough home life and no dad, had not worked or cooperated in school for 2 years. His teacher was amazed to see his transformation in Art Buddies, to watch him bond with his mentor and feel joy and pride in his achievement.

LaKeisha, a homeless, depressed girl, got her spirit back after being in Art Buddies. She was paired with a wonderful mentor who made her smile again. She told her teachers how much she loved Art Buddies, how it helped her feel more cheerful and confident.

Art Buddies motivates kids to learn.

One father told us, “Before Art Buddies, my boy got 2’s and 3’s on his spelling tests. After Art Buddies, he got 12’s. He felt so proud of himself in your program, he started trying harder in school!”

A teacher said, “At Art Buddies, every child is successful. For some, it’s the first time they know what success feels like. They want more of that feeling, so they work harder in school to get it.”

Art Buddies increases school attendance.

Our program is so popular with students, school attendance goes UP on Art Buddies days. One teacher said, “All week long, the kids talked about how excited they were to see their Art Buddy again.”

The After-School coordinator told us we had the highest attendance rate of all her programs — which is rare for a group as large as ours.

Art Buddies improves behavior and social skills.

Teachers repeatedly warned us about problem behavior with their kids. Then, during Art Buddies, they were astounded to see huge improvement in their students’ conduct.

“Kids who were having a horrible day—-cussing, wrestling, goofing off—-suddenly changed at the door to Art Buddies. I think it’s the one-on-one attention. They really need that,” said one teacher.

Art Buddies helps kids plan ahead and stay on task.

Teachers report that students gain valuable life-skills in Art Buddies by learning to create and execute a plan, and by learning to focus on a task over a long period of time.

“Most of these kids don’t know how to do that,” one teacher told us. “The goal-setting and execution skills they develop in Art Buddies can help them succeed in life.”

Art Buddies introduces kids to creative careers.

Teachers know the value of expanding a child’s view of their future. Most of the kids have no idea that the TV ad they’re watching, or the logo on their sneakers, represents a JOB. Our mentors show the kids it’s possible to make a good living by being creative.

Art Buddy Spotlights

Art Buddy Spotlight: Tivoli Madsen, Mentor/Advisory Board Member

Tivoli Madsen is a Trend Forecaster + Designer for Target Corporation, and has volunteered as an Art Buddies mentor for 6 seasons at Whittier Elementary School in south Minneapolis. Tivoli has also been an active member of the Art Buddies Advisory Board since 2012, providing advocacy and support for programming, fundraising and special events.

Photo courtesy Doug Knutson Photography

How would you describe Art Buddies to someone who has never heard of the program?
Art Buddies is an amazing mentor program that pairs creative professionals one–on-one with elementary school kids for an 8-week art program that boosts self-esteem, imagination and creativity… for both the kids and the mentors!

What advice would you give to a rookie Art Buddies volunteer?
Learn from your kid! Admittedly, there are a few “Type A” personalities in the creative field, and it’s easy to want to “direct and perfect” the project you are working on with your child. But the fun part for me is letting the kids direct you - their passion and excitement build something you would have never dreamed of.

Define what one-on-one mentoring means to you and how it can impact the lives of children.
Being able to work with a child one-on-one is unique in that you get to really learn about who they are and - most importantly - really listen to them. I think it means a lot to a child to be able have an adult’s undivided attention and get to ‘run the show’ on the project. It shows them how much their ideas matter, and that they are being heard.

How do you feel the after-school combination of creativity and mentoring helps children in school?
Art Buddies helps kids feel empowered and confident in themselves. This goes well beyond the art project, and we see them feeling more confident and excited in school.

While you were sharing knowledge with your Art Buddy, did you ever find they were teaching you something equally important? If so, what?
Always. It is a reminder to let go, dream a little wilder, think outside the box… and create without overthinking. They have no design rules or preconceived notions of what a costume should look like; they just let loose with their ideas and a glue gun and go for it. It’s quite liberating. 

Photo courtesy Doug Knutson Photography

Art Buddies accepts mentor applications every fall and spring. Learn how you can volunteer with Art Buddies at http://www.artbuddies.org/volunteer/.  

Art Buddy Spotlight: Anna Thompson, Mentor/Advisory Board Member

Anna Thompson has enjoyed being an Art Buddies mentor and Advisory Board member for eight years (and counting!). Outside of Art Buddies she puts her creative talents into motion at Socially Smitten as a Social Marketing Account Manager and Illustrator.  

What has been your most memorable Art Buddies experience?
Two years ago, I recruited my mom, a former art teacher and designer, to volunteer with Art Buddies. She hasn’t taught art in a long time, and she totally enjoyed it! Not only did she have fun with the kids, but it was a great bonding experience for us too.

Why did you decide to volunteer with Art Buddies?
I volunteered with Art Buddies back in 2007. At the time, I was still trying to figure out what exactly I was going to do for a “career." Art Buddies helps kids AND adults foster their creativity. Not long after that, I started my own Etsy business that I still have today. 

Define what one-on-one mentoring means to you and how it can impact the life of a child. 
Volunteering with Art Buddies has been incredibly rewarding. I have seen the difference one-on-one mentoring can make in a child’s life. Many of the kids in the Art Buddies program don’t get the chance to have an adult all to themselves, and I think they really crave that attention and need it to thrive. I love devoting a couple hours a week to one special kid and really letting them know that this is THEIR time. 

How do you feel the after-school combination of creativity and mentoring helps children with schoolwork?
From a personal experience, when I set aside time to be creative, it sparks creativity in other facets of my life too. Volunteering at Art Buddies mid-week revitalizes me and gets my creative juices flowing – those creative juices then spill back into my work and I feel renewed. I can only imagine that the same thing happens for our little Art Buddies. 

Have you gained new friendships or expanded your network as an Art Buddy?
I have definitely met some cool cats volunteering with Art Buddies. It’s always fun running into them at events (whether it’s an advertising convention, an art festival, or even just out and about!). I’ve found that my wealth of Art Buddies friends has grown considerably over the past years. It’s a great community.

Art Buddies accepts mentor applications every fall and spring. Learn how you can volunteer with Art Buddies at http://www.artbuddies.org/volunteer/.  

Art Buddy Spotlight: Stuart Wainstock, Mentor/Advisory Board Member

Stuart Wainstock is a Digital Designer at Greenspring Media where he works with such esteemed publications like Minnesota Monthly and Midwest Home Magazine. He has been a valuable part of our Art Buddies mentorship program and Advisory Board for two years.

Photo courtesy Doug Knutson

How would you describe Art Buddies to someone who has never heard of the program?
Art Buddies is a one-on-one after-school mentoring program that allows you to step away from grownup meetings and emails and into the world of kids one day a week. You and your buddy will go from ideation to working concept in a matter of 8-10 weeks. Be prepared to get messy and have fun.

What has been your most memorable experience as an Art Buddies mentor? 
My second semester with Art Buddies was pretty great. My buddy came to the first session with a stack of books (he had participated previously) and wanted to sketch ideas immediately. We must have spent two sessions researching and prototyping before even cutting a piece of cardboard. By the end of the semester, my buddy had created an extremely elaborate storyline about a wizard who befriended little creatures in the forest. His costume and accessories reflected the awesomeness. 

Why did you decide to volunteer with Art Buddies?
I did my undergrad in Elementary Education and taught kindergarten for five years. When I moved to Minneapolis, I missed working with kids, and Art Buddies filled the void perfectly. The blend of creative mentoring and after-school education make coming back each semester feel like the first day of school. Being able to play with glitter and sparkles was also pretty appealing.

What advice would you give to rookie Art Buddies mentors?
Let your little buddy run the show. Be there as a facilitator/guide and let your buddy take it from there. No matter how much you want the costume to be your marvelous and amazing creation, let it come from your buddy, and it will be that much more meaningful. 

How do you feel the after-school combination of creativity and mentoring helps children with schoolwork? 
One of the best things about the combination is the spectrum of grownup buddies that participate in the program. From architects and real estate agents to art directors and industrial designers, kid buddies get first-hand insight into what it means to be creative in the work place. Students start to see how different elements of their school work can be applied in a creative way, and that helps to breakdown some of the stigmas of that school work. Helping to raise awareness of all the different ways someone can be creative helps put things in a different lens.

Photo courtesy Mike Habermann

Art Buddies accepts mentor applications every fall and spring. Learn how you can volunteer with Art Buddies at http://www.artbuddies.org/volunteer/