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2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Art Expression, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services

Mission: to provide social and emotional learning through the arts and provide academic enrichment in an inclusive setting.

Results: Since its founding in 2001, Art Expression Inc. has served over 11,000 children in urban, suburban and rural school districts and community organizations in Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Washington, and Westmoreland counties.

Target demographics: Children and youth of all abilities and backgrounds in urban, suburban and rural school districts and community organizations in the Pittsburgh area

Direct beneficiaries per year: over 1,000 students.

Geographic areas served: K-12 schools, homeless shelters and community organizations

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

Community Stories

79 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been working for Art Expression, Inc. since I graduated in 2011 as an Art Facilitator. Angela and her team continue to amaze me year after year of how they keep the organization thriving and relevant to the needs of the community. I have always enjoyed working in the school and shelter setting but I am extremely excited about our most recently pilot program Parenting from the HeART. During the program I met some incredible young adults who were open and eager for the support and resources Art Expression, Inc. had to offer. This summer I also ran a successful summer art program to help students transition into junior high. The students and their parents were grateful to have a week long program to help them reduce anxiety and gain confidence for the transition. The school hopes to continue the summer program every year. I have loved all of my opportunities to work with Art Expression, Inc. and I plan to be with them for many years to come!

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Glenn Smartschan

I have been involved with Art Expression since its inception. First, as Superintendent of Schools in Mt. Lebanon, when Art Expression opened its first after school class in Mt. Lebanon schools, and now as a board member.

Art Expression has helped hundreds of students find a voice and an identity through the arts. As a result of the program I have witnessed students dramatically improve their interpersonal relationships with their peers and use the Art Expression experience to enhance academic performance.

I am proud to be a member of the Board and to be a part of a program which has changed the lives of many students.

Previous Stories
1

Board Member

Rating: 5

In my extensive involvement in public education I often struggled with our inability to make profound connections with All of our students. Art Expression, by its design and implementation, creates unique opportunities for young people to grow socially, emotionally and academically through exposure and participation in the ARTS.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My daughter was only a couple of years into elementary school when she began taking after-school classes through the Art Expression program. Her self-confidence and creativity grew as she continued through the program over the years. I would encourage any parent to give their child the gift of Art Expression.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I began the Art Expression program in the Mt. Lebanon School District when I was just in first grade. From the start, I looked forward to each session, wondering what sort of project we would be working on. Even though I did not know many of the other students in the program going in, I was glad to be with each one of them by the end of six weeks. Everyone was very positive and friendly--even the fifth-graders complimented my clay dog! I loved the program so much that I continued throughout elementary school and middle school!
I found pleasure in the freedom that came with the middle-school program format. I could harness all of my energy into multiple projects--working on a plaster mask, watercolor painting, and a card for a friend all in the same session! I was never the “Picasso” or “Rembrandt” of the group during my sessions, but I still took pride in the work I created. All students--artistic or not--were fueled by the positivity and encouragement in the room.
Throughout elementary and middle school, the program boosted my self-esteem and confidence. By the time eighth-grade was wrapping up, I believed I had grown into a more certain leader. Inside and outside the art room, I felt as though I did not need others’ approval and was more comfortable with myself.
Now, I help out as a volunteer for the program. My experience with Art Expression has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my life. I am very grateful to this exceptional organization and would encourage parents and schools to get their kids involved and support this program in any way possible.

Advisor

Rating: 5

I am a facilitator with the Art Expression program at 2 different elementary schools in Mt. Lebanon.
The students are so accepting of each other and appreciative of the art work that this fully inclusive program is a joy to assist with.

Board Member

Rating: 5

It is rare in one’s life to find something that one can be an advocate for and I consider myself fortunate to have found Art Expression Incorporated. This organization is a unique program that utilizes my personal passions of art therapy, helping children, and volunteering for a wonderful cause. Being a board member since its nonprofit inception has been one of the best experiences of my life. I consider myself lucky to be a part of a team of like minded individuals, whose ultimate goal is to help others. The positive results of the program are seen in participant’s behaviors, attitudes, and personal stories. I have seen the program grow and change over the last few years to help not only those in schools but also within the military, homeless shelters, and within various community based programs. Even with its expansions it continues to hold its core principals and ideals closely. I look forward to seeing the program grows, expands, and changes in the coming years.

Previous Stories

Board Member

Rating: 5

It is rare in ones life to find something that one can be truly passionate about and I consider myself lucky to have been fortunate enough to have found Art Expression Incorporated. This organization is a one of a kind program that utilizes my passion of art therapy within school systems. What makes this program unique is that it is an inclusive (having both regular and special education students) social skill building program. It is run by a master level art therapist and school facilitators within the school building; the place where most socialization occurs. Students use both directive and open studio approaches to expressive themselves in distinctive ways. The programs goals include increase in self esteem, increase in positive socialization techniques, use of problem solving steps, and better tolerance of anger frustration. The positive results of the program are seen in students behaviors, attitudes, and personal stories.

Kathy185

Board Member

Rating: 5

As Art Expression begins its fifth year in the Keystone Oaks School District, the enthusiasm of the students participating in this after-school program continues to be strong. Opportunities to engage in creative art activities provided in an inclusive environment enhances the social and academic growth of our students! The program not only encourages creative development, and supports academic/creative arts standards, but also provides opportunities for students to be supportive of one another and share their own perspective, while learning to understand the perspectives of their peers. As both a District Administrator and an Art Expression Board member, I value the program on both levels for its contributions to Keystone Oaks School District.

Melissa Carey

Board Member

Rating: 5

I knew when I was invited to join the Art Expression Board of Directors that I already connected with the mission and guiding principles of the organization. Overall, Art Expression, Inc. is motivated to provide programs that ‘facilitate positive socialization with children and adolescents through expressive art activities in an inclusive educational environment.”

It wasn’t until I became involved with the board that I realized this was so much more. To hear the positive statements of children finding their creativity and passion, growing in confidence both artistically and personally, and navigating the realm of positive socialization and peer to peer interaction because of the impact Art Expression is making in their lives renews a commitment to the work that Art Expression does in the schools and the community programs we service.

As a Music Therapist, writer, and social media manager, I have worked with many organizations and groups that do great work in the Pittsburgh area. Bringing those tools to the board and learning more in-depth about the work of Art Expression have been an exciting endeavor and I am proud of my association with the members of the board and the staff of Art Expression.

I encourage all artists, creative types, parents and school administrators, and those interested in bringing positive social tools through art, youth-focused groups who support inclusive programming, and community-based businesses who support youth and educational programs to learn more about the work our Masters level Art Therapists facilitate with these students and children through the many programs Art Expression offers. You won’t be disappointed.

Melissa Carey

Previous Stories
1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Having followed the progression of Art Expression over the last 3 years from an outsider and nonprofit blogger perspective, I can’t say enough about the work that Art Expression does. Coming from my background in Music Therapy, I value the impact of their work using art to develop positive social interaction, self-esteem, and creativity in our youth in a fully inclusive environment. When you speak with those involved with the organization, you can feel the passion, intensity, intelligence, and devotion they have for providing the services they offer. The organization has established a range of programs, integrating artistic mediums with science and technology, math, environmental issues, and emotional well-being. What is also impressive, is that Art Expression works well with others – aligning their programming with educational core standards accessing teacher input; connecting with other organizations to combine projects, such as with the Toonseum, Operation Military Kids, and the Homeless Children’s Education Fund; and bringing together children of all abilities and backgrounds to experience the power of art in their lives. I fully endorse and support the ways Art Expression implements their mission and passion for bringing expressive art activities to children.

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

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

As both a Board Member and as a Professional working in the field of education, I give my full endoresment to Art Expression. I have observed the program in action in the Keystone Oaks School District. Its impact on our students is impressive and the respect for others it engenders is so valuable.
Kathy Foster

Review from The Pittsburgh Foundation

Board Member

Rating: 5

it is such a pleasure to service on a board that cares so very much about children. Through Art Expression the children not only have fun creating their projects but also can express feelings about themselves. Sometimes in the normal environment of a regular classroom, children either can't or are afraid to express their feelings, but through the wonderful experience of Art Expression children feel comfortable being themselves.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Art Expression is a dynamic organization that works very hard to help children express themselves through their art work. I have seen the many positive impacts this program has created for children. The development and growth of self esteem is a goal of Art Expression and hopes to give kids another tool in their tool belt. This program is the only one of its kind making it unique, creative and exciting for kids.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am an active nonprofit volunteer in the Greater Pittsburgh area. I have had first hand experience with the entire Art Expression community. They are a group of passionate, creative individuals committed to making a positive change in the lives of the students they serve.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am a Board Member and Volunteer Consultant with Art Expression, Inc. I have seen the program up close and personal. The Art Expression program changes lives. Members participate in afterschool art directives aimed to stimulate education, social skills and personal growth. Everyone's art is seen as personal expression, and the group, the facilitators, and the mastered degreed art therapist all play a part in the fun. The most important part is that participants feel a connection and often times find friendships that develop, and teachers become true mentors. The program is inclusive, non-judgmental, fun, and educational.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am an art therapist and have had the honor of facilitating Art Expressions programs in many Pittsburgh area schools over the past 8+ years. What I love about the Art Expressions programs are that they are fun experiences for children that allows them to explore feelings, emotions, troubles and most of all, the developing person they are becoming. I've experienced children in Art Expression programs share for the first time that they are victims of violence, sexual abuse or are a member of a family in crisis. I've experienced bullies and victims in the same Art Expressions group find middle ground. I've also experienced kids who appreciate the opportunity to address issues large and small; good or bad in an encouraging environment. It's magical, and we know it works. Feedback from families and school personal tell us we're on to something.

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.