We are a social enterprise that uses creativity and design as vehicles for social change. Founded in 1991, Artists For Humanity (AFH) provides Boston’s under-resourced teens with the keys to self-sufficiency through paid employment in art and design, using creativity to build equity. We began with the ambitious and unconventional idea that young people can provide, through their innate talent and vision, contemporary creative services to the business community.
Our multifaceted identity as a hybrid of a creative services agency and workforce and youth development program has allowed us to work in innovative, unique ways. As a result, we have grown exponentially as a youth and cultural community resource and a successful enterprise, serving our youth apprentices and the greater community as a learning laboratory in the creative industry. We have become a leader in youth development and are the largest onsite employer of Boston teens, with 300+ youth employed annually in paid apprenticeships in the visual arts and creative industries. We counteract the risks facing young people – one teen at a time – with a range of opportunities, resources, and supports. Through our programs, our teens learn and grow through paid employment and exposure to conducting business, experience the enrichment that comes from the arts and cultural experiences, and are surrounded by engaged mentors in a safe place to go after school with a culture of respect. We also provide academic support to assist our teens with graduating from high school and successfully defining pathways to success in college and career. We continue to pioneer opportunities for youth to utilize creativity, industry, and innovation, with an overarching goal of preparing youth for emerging workforce and educational pathways.
Now celebrating our 30th year, we have built a reputation for the quality and impact of our work, and we have assembled a dedicated and talented team of staff, teen mentors, and teen apprentices. We operate with an annual budget of $6M, generated by a combination of earned income for our creative services and philanthropic support.
Moving forward, we see exciting opportunities to refine and expand on our earned revenue model and develop adaptations of our successful youth employment model. Since 1999, AFH has been collaborating nationally and internationally with city planners, community organizations, arts institutions, and school systems to build and sustain a field for arts professionals working with youth for social change. Through these collaborations, AFH’s model has been implemented as program adaptations nationally and internationally. We refer to these programs as adaptations, rather than replications, to reflect our role as advisors and mentors, rather than as governors. As AFH’s impact spreads, we receive several inquiries each month from communities interested in learning more about, and possibly implementing, our program model. Opportunities for impact through continued adaptation are open-ended for an entrepreneurial leader who can creatively build on our vision.
For more information on AFH and to take our virtual tour, please visit www.afhboston.org.