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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services

Mission: The Art Expression Inc. mission is to facilitate positive socialization through expressive art activities and provide academic enrichment in an inclusive educational environment.

Results: Who Are We? Art Expression, Inc. is a 501(c) (3) charitable organization that was founded by James and Angela Lowden in 2001 as an expression of their passion for alleviating the social inequalities that exist among children of different abilities. It is a fully inclusive, after-school program that focuses on developing the social skills of children through art in the Pittsburgh area. Mission Statement: "To facilitate positive socialization with children and adolescents through expressive art activities in an inclusive educational environment." Who Do We Serve? Since founding Art Expression, Inc. the organization has served over 5,000 children in Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Washington, and Westmoreland counties. Some of our partners include: School Districts  Allegheny Valley School District  Central Greene School District  Charleroi School District  Chartiers Valley School District  Frazier School District  Greensburg Salem School District  Keystone Oaks School District  Laurel Highlands School District  Mt. Lebanon School District  South Allegheny School District  Trinity Area School District  Wilkinsburg School District  Woodland Hills School District Community Organizations  Carnegie Library of Homestead  East End United Community Center, Uniontown  Homeless Children's Education Fund  Military Family Network  Operation Military Kids Awards and Recognition 2013 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award (NAHYP) Finalist Art Expression, Inc. was chosen as one of 50 finalists distinguishing the program as one of the top arts- and humanities- based programs in the country. Art Expression, Inc. has received a 2013 NAHYP Award Certificate of Excellence. American Association of School Administrators & American Art Therapy Association 2011 Model Art Therapy Programs in K-12 Schools. Program Goals The goals of Art Expression, Inc. are as follows :  Increase self-esteem and creative self-expression as evidenced by participants' ability to express and verbalize their feelings  Enhance social skills as evidenced by age-appropriate skills including ability to observe personal space of others, ability to share materials, ability to listen reflectively and comment positively on projects and ideas of other participants  Improve problem-solving skills as evidenced by participants’ ability to identify and communicate a problem, develop a solution, seek assistance if needed, and evaluate the outcome  Improve frustration tolerance as evidenced by participant ability to apply problem-solving skills  Establish independence as evidenced by participants' ability to present themselves in an appropriate manner  Provide the social skills and tools necessary to participants to support themselves or others when being bullied  Provide a program to participants which supports academic core standards

Target demographics: improve social skills and provide academic enrichment through art in an inclusive educational environment..

Direct beneficiaries per year: over 1,000 students.

Geographic areas served: schools, homeless shelters and community organizations

Programs: Creative pARTners, From the HeART, ARTchitecture: Building Bridges, ARTmosphere: Weather, EcoSmART, StART Growing, and ARTS in Motion.

Community Stories

8 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I became familiar with Art Expression at least four years ago and worked with Angela to learn about after-school programs and offer them in the district where I served as superintendent. Art Expression provides opportunities for children of all ages and abilities through an interdisciplinary, engaging approach that is customized for each learner. One program was piloted initially at the upper elementary level successfully. And because of the partnership with students, staff and parents that developed quickly, there was a strong desire from many to grow the program, which eventually became an option throughout the K-12 system. Art Expression provides high-quality programming that demonstrates extraordinary planning and extraordinary results.

Comments ( 1 )

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AMLowden 11/02/2016

Thank you so much for this lovely review. Your words are very encouraging and gratifying. We are honored to have served (and still serve!) the students in your former school district.

Client Served

Rating: 5

For a second year, our out-of-school program chose Art Expression, Inc. for arts activities for the Summer Enrichment Series. For six consecutive Thursdays, our students, ages 7-17, enjoyed journaling, exploring their emotions and expressing themselves in a unique project. It was great fun to see the end results of the creative processes. As an administrator, I have to add that Angela and all of her instructors are professionals and a pleasure to work with.

Comments ( 1 )

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AMLowden 11/02/2016

Thank you for your kind words! We are honored to work with the youth in your program and hope to continue our relationship again next year and beyond. You and your staff are also a pleasure to work with!

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

One of our volunteers was so impressed with the work of Art Expression, Inc. at another nonprofit she supported, that she confidently provided the funding for Art Expression in our Summer Enrichment Series for our out-of-school program. The kids loved each week's art adventure. In particular, I was thrilled that our instructor, Miss Cheryl, tweaked the projects to coincide with our pirate play, creating backdrops, props and costumes. More importantly, she recognized the needs of each child and handled those with special needs expertly. Art Expression made our summer perfect.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

During elementary and middle school, I was a student in the Art Expression program. Throughout high school, I volunteered with the program for several years. Art Expression has helped me become who I am today.

In elementary school, Art Expression boosted my self-esteem and confidence. Each session provides a "safe space" for students to feel free to speak openly, express themselves, and be accepted. As a student in the program, I looked forward to every session and can even still remember specific projects I created as far back as first grade--a colorful scarf, massive painting of a cave, and decorated box, to name a few.

In middle school, Art Expression sessions additionally gave me the opportunity to develop my communication skills as my fellow students and I collaborated and bonded over our love of creating art.

Now, as a college freshman Secondary English Education major, as I look back, it is clear that my experiences with Art Expression as a student and volunteer contributed to my current desire to become a teacher. Art Expression gave me the confidence to express myself.

Art Expression is a unique and impactful organization that I know can benefit any school and any child. I look forward to seeing the organization grow and continue to touch more children in the future.

Comments ( 1 )

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AMLowden 11/11/2016

Thank you so much for this amazing testimonial. We are so proud to have had you in our classes through the years and I'm grateful for your kind words about the organization. It's a pleasure to know you!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

Our school district shared a relationship with Art Expression, Inc. over multiple years. What a clever design to a badly needed service. Therapeutic art. It levels the playing field for students who are struggling with emotional needs. In a very non threatening environment students are given coping tools for problem solving. Our students really enjoyed this program. The staff from Art Expression is professional and flexible to meet the needs of the population they serve. They get a thumbs up from this administrator.

Comments ( 1 )

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AMLowden 10/18/2016

We are humbled by these wonderful comments. You are very kind. Thank you so much!

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am an elementary principal whose students have experienced the many wonderful offerings of this program. Our community reflects a high percentage of need. Art Expression has undoubtedly given our students opportunities to experience their artistic creativity, while dealing with issues of a more sensitive and personal nature. From staff, to parents and students....this program has had a huge success for our students and has been very well received. The approach is unique. The skills acquired are life long lessons, which our students will carry with them. One of my most memorable activities for the students were the creation of "worry beads". These were beautiful beads made by the children from clay that were attached to a piece of string. The students learned to carry them in their pockets and when they felt overwhelmed with anxiety or fear, they simply had to place their hand in their pocket and begin rolling their way through their strand/problem. What was so wonderful was that by the time the child reaches the end, their worries were gone. These "worry beads" were very affective. I can remember my interactions with two little boys in particular, where their beads got them through the day. Thanks Art Expression for opening new and creative doorways for our students to handle their emotions. Your services I'm sure have been irreplaceable for many of our students. This wouldn't have happened without you!!!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

It was truly wonderful working with Art Expression in our district's after school program. Inspiring middle school students, particularly boys, to engage in art and open creative space had been an ongoing struggle for several years, but our Art Expression instructors were very innovative in their approach to working with our students. Instead of entering the program with a firm or canned curriculum, the instructors captured the ideas, interests, and needs of our students as a means to determine which materials and projects to engage. For example, we had a lot of boys who did not want to paint, but really enjoyed working with their hands designing clay models and miniature worlds. They then combined all of their creations to make stop animation projects. In another case, many of our students, both boys and girls were dealing with the death of a fellow student due to neighborhood violence. The instructors were able to help our students creatively and therapeutically express themselves through art in a way that was respectful, tactful, and productive.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Art Expression provided a valuable after-school experience for Colfax Upper Elementary School students in the Allegheny Valley School District. Students, staff and families appreciated the design of the program, especially the focus on creativity and individualized learning. The culminating activity was a showcase event that drew great response and increased interest and support for Art Expression. Allegheny Valley hopes to continue its partnership with Art Expression. Cheryl Griffith, Superintendent of Schools

Client Served

Rating: 5

Art Expression provides wonderful programming for children! I have observed first hand the wonderful work their educators have done in the homeless shelter where I work. Their programming brought creativity and laughter into our space and provided kids with the opportunity to open up and make something truly unique. I think the kids truly enjoyed the process as much as the final products they created.