There are hundreds of non-profits and other types of organizations that are tapping into the power of visual and performing arts to create positive changes in the world. From providing creative outlets for inner-city kids to installing gorgeous pieces of art in hospitals, check out what these 12 incredible organizations that are doing everything they can to make the world a better place—and who knows? You just might feel called to help one of them out.
This organization, with offices in both Washington, D.C. and New York City, strives to make the arts accessible to Americans of all backgrounds. By educating the public on the ways in which the arts enrich communities economically, socially, and educationally, Americans for the Arts encourages people to advocate for the arts at local and national levels. Learn more about getting involved here.
Each year, the National YoungArts Foundation selects roughly 170 accomplished artists ages 15 to 18 from across all disciplines to participate in its life-changing programs. Winners receive cash awards of up to $10,000 as well as opportunities to work with renowned mentors and to exhibit or perform at world-class cultural institutions. Although its primary program, National YoungArts Week, is just seven days long, the benefits of being selected last a lifetime: just look at where notable alumni Viola Davis, Josh Groban and Doug Aitken have ended up. Find out how you can support YoungArts here.
This organization’s mission is to nurture socially engaged art by supporting individual artists and collectives whose top priorities are to engage their communities and enact social change in creative ways. ABOG offers a fellowship which provides resources to artists who have these qualities, and the organization also puts on a variety of public programs. Gert more information on the current fellows.
Free Arts is an organization that provides children from underserved communities with opportunities for arts education and mentorship. In addition to creating and discussing their own art, participating youth attend studio visits and talks by professional artists. Children can stay in the program from pre-K all the way through high school. To volunteer or donate, click here.
5. Casita Maria
This organization serves the South Bronx and East Harlem by providing young people and their families with arts and social programming that fosters education and cultural enrichment. Casita Maria also has an artist in residence program that attracts international artists who organize workshops and encourage community involvement in their work. The organization is deeply commitment to supporting the arts and has a facility with performance spaces, a gallery and dance and music studios for the community to use. To find out more about Casita Maria and the work they do, click here.
Similarly to New York’s Free Arts and Casita Maria, Inner-City Arts in L.A. also provides a safe space for students of underserved backgrounds to explore their creative sides. Programs during the school day, after school and on weekends allow kids of all ages to work with professional artists in its state-of-the-art studio and performance facilities. It also offers a training program for teachers, college students and others looking to gain experience in bringing arts education to students of all backgrounds. Sound up your alley? See how you can donate your time or resources here.
Another L.A.-based organization, this non-profit uses art as a catalyst for social change by providing a variety of programs to individuals in need. Believing that art enables people to triumph over their circumstances, The Art of Elysium is active in hospitals, special needs schools, homeless shelters, retirement homes and hospice care facilities. The organization gives emerging artists opportunities to engage their communities and use their talents to impact the lives of people in need. Find out how you can be a part of it here.
8. Arts & Minds
Arts & Minds is a New York-based non-profit that provides opportunities to engage with art to people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The effects that both making art and simply viewing and discussing it can have on the quality of life of patients living with these conditions are truly transformative, so this organization offers both types of art therapy. Arts & Minds holds regular art-making workshops as well as special programs at art museums around the city including the Studio Museum in Harlem, El Museo del Barrio and the New York Historical Society. Want to be a part of it? Learn more here.
This unique organization based in Florida, is focused on developing self-growth and lasting life skills for incarcerated individuals, especially women, through art. ArtSpring provides free programs to the Florida Department of Corrections that use art-based workshops to foster respect, cooperation and cultural understanding which aid inmates in their transitions back to normal life after being released from prison. For more info, click here.
RxArt commissions renowned contemporary artists to create engaging works that transform children’s hospitals and other pediatric medical facilities into inspiring and visually stimulating environments for young patients suffering from life-threatening ailments. Participating artists include Rob Pruitt, Jeff Koons, Laura Owens and Julie Mehretu. Learn about how you can help here.
With offices in both Bogotá and New York, A.R.T.’s main goal is to help refugees of war and natural disasters rebuild their individual and community identities through art. Its programs draw from the indigenous forms of visual, performing and creative arts in each community and are designed to enable the elders of each culture to educate the young people and engage them in their traditions. To get involved, click here.
Each year, Coalition for the Homeless, an organization that advocates for and directly serve homeless men, women and children, holds an event called ArtWalk in New York City. The fundraiser attracts hundreds of celebrity guests and consists of an art auction and musical entertainment. The info for this year’s event isn’t up yet, but keep a lookout on this page for more info on what to expect.
Editor’s note: Please consider supporting to the ACLU. You can donate here.