Growing Young Artists

Our Growing Young Artists (GYA) program interrupts students’ “at-risk trajectory” through creative educational experiences. The program augments core skills in literacy and language fluency, math and science. Just as important, it builds crucial social and emotional skills including problem-solving, collaboration, empathy, self-direction, and responsibility.

Educators, interested in brining the Growing Young Artists program to your school?

Interrupting the           
at-risk trajectory

Focusing on student assets

This summer we worked with pre-K through 8th grade migrant students and, for the first time, Title 1 students attending Fennville School.

Many schools in our West Michigan region run summer school programs for migrant children. These young people travel with their parents and are considered “at risk”, typically moving from school to school, state to state throughout the year as their parents travel for seasonal agricultural work.

These children also struggle with health issues, having a proportionally higher percentage of childhood obesity as compared to the rest of the population. And the average level of completed education for a Migrant Farm Worker is 8th grade, with 49.6% of students never reaching high school.

This is where Growing Young Artists comes in for migrant and other at-risk students. Through daily writing exercises, yoga and mindfulness, field trips to area museums and galleries, and lots of drawing and painting the GYA Artist in Residence and our teaching team helps students think about the roles they play in their families and communities and how they can use their voices positively, even having a lasting impact in their community.

Like rings on a target

Impacting students, teachers, schools and community

Students are at the heart of the Growing Young Artists model. Art is a great vehicle for teaching science and math, and for supplementing reading, writing and speaking skills in students of all ages.

But in addition, we want them to finish GYA knowing that their stories, opinions and perspectives matter. This program is as much about relationships and life experiences as art-making. We continually ask students how they can use their creativity to help others because we believe that art and creativity have the power to break down all kinds of barriers and truly impact lives.

It gives educators skills they can use in their classroom throughout the year, long after Growing Young Artists is over. And provides a rare opportunity for teachers to collaborate with a working artist and other teachers.

It builds relationships and long-term learning strategies that impact entire school populations.

During Growing Young Artists, our project-based learning model brings together a working artist and a team of professionals which includes high school interns, college students and professional educators. Our team works collaboratively with regular classroom teachers to create a student-centered, multi-disciplinary, arts-infused, integrated curriculum.
Growing Young Artists ultimately ripples out to the broader community, connecting students, their families, teachers and community members. It builds connections and provides opportunities for children and adults to work together.
A Message From

Our Education Manager

This past summer students who were rarely praised, often in trouble or grade levels behind – were publicly celebrated. Their art work was the focal point of a community-wide event that solved our identified challenge: how to create an authentic bridge to the community’s Hispanic population. BIG issue, right?

To solve the problem, the students explored the question of what “A United World” might look like. Students as young as 4 years old came up with the “See Our Same” theme and were a part of designing an outdoor exhibition of symbolic fabric flags to visualized the statement.

Students were given a voice — it was incredible for them to publically share personalized pieces and for the community to see them, really see and listen to them.

 It was powerful for the community leadership to see that – trusting students – significantly paid off. I know art IS the vehicle. Celebrating assets IS the focus. Community IS the classroom. 




What Professionals Are Saying

“Growing Young Artists provides an opportunity to build kids up. These kids haven’t been built up much. Their art and the relationships they are forming gives them an opportunity to find self confidence and be affirmed in their abilities.”

Kim Zdybel, Middle School Princpal, Fennville Public Schools

“Creating art and using real literacy skills to support the creation of that art is authentic, formative, powerful education.

Corey Harbaugh, Director of Teaching & Learning, Fennville Public Schools

GYA kept me in a role of teaching and gaining experience that has prepared me for the workforce.”

Avery Burke, GYA Instructor, Senior at Taylor Christian University, Studying Elementary Special Education & Spanish

True Stories From the Inside





Get In Touch

Location: 400 Culver St., Saugatuck, MI 49453

Telephone: (269) 857-2399


Office Hours: M-F: 9am – 4pm

The Growing Young Artist program is proudly supported by Meijer.