Art Buddies licenses program in Dallas, TX!

For more than 20 years, Art Buddies has paired creative mentors one-on-one with underprivileged kids in Minneapolis. Last year, the program expanded to its first public school in St. Paul, Riverview West Side School of Excellence, where arts curriculum for third through fifth graders had been cut.

Art Buddies also partners with two Minneapolis schools, Whittier International Elementary and Bancroft Elementary. Annually, the program pairs more than 200 children with 200 creative mentors during after-school programs in the Twin Cities.

This year, Art Buddies is taking a giant leap far beyond the river to Dallas, Texas, through a licensed partnership with the Dallas-Fort Worth area chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design.

“This is a very exciting step for Art Buddies,” says Scott Mikesh, Art Buddies President and Executive Director. “We’ve been looking for new ways to expand, but the one-on-one model is tricky to replicate, and is such an integral part of our program. There is no shortage of children or schools in need, so it all depends on the number of volunteers we can recruit, which is a very intensive process.”

“Of course we have long aspired to have a national reach,” Mikesh adds, “but expanding to St. Paul was an important first step. After 20 years in Minneapolis, we needed the experience of working with a new city and school district, and engaging a new community of volunteers. Even though Minneapolis is just across the river, proximity to home or work as well as travel time and commuting options are important considerations for our after-school mentors.”

Mikesh admits it was a bit of kismet that AIGA Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) was looking to offer a program like Art Buddies, making a future aspiration a current reality.

“We were looking for a program that would have a strong impact on our community while providing a way to engage AIGA members,” says Timothy Bardlavens, Education Director for AIGA DFW, “and we thought Art Buddies would be the perfect fit. I truly believe Art Buddies can have as great of an impact in the Dallas-Fort Worth area as it has had in the Twin Cities, to empower children with creativity and provide an opportunity for creative adults to serve our community.”

The licensed program partnership with AIGA DFW is the first of its kind, and will add Charles A. Gill Elementary School in Dallas to the roster of Art Buddies schools, serving another 30 children this spring.

“Art Buddies has a long-standing relationship with AIGA since our founding in 1994, and we are thrilled for the chance to build on that relationship,” explains Stephanie Vagle, Art Buddies Program Director. Vagle has been with the organization since 1997.

“In fact, the Minnesota chapter of AIGA helped launch the concept for Art Buddies when our founder, Sue Crolick, coordinated the first creative mentor event as an AIGA Minnesota community service project. She was so inspired by the overwhelming response of our creative community to help kids that she quit her 30-year career in advertising and design to start Creatives for Causes, which later became Art Buddies.”

The Minnesota chapter of AIGA continues to advocate and support Art Buddies by helping recruit creative mentors in the Twin Cities each season, a show of support that now spans across the country with the involvement of AIGA DFW.

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