ArtForce Iowa is a 501c3 non-profit that was founded in 2012 by a group of concerned citizens. Our mission is to transform youth in need through art. All programs are based on our three force model. The model incorporates life and work skills, mentorship, and advocacy into the art of creative expression. A variety of programs have been designed to focus on this model: Creative Pathways, DSM Heroes, and StreetCred Studios.
ArtForce Iowa’s flagship program is a supportive arts-based community for youth who have involvement in the juvenile court system, whether they are labeled delinquent, CHINA (Child In Need of Assistance) or in custody of DHS. We recruit and train professional artists in our community to become Artist Mentors and spend quality time with struggling youth. Artist Mentors help define a safe space and help youth artists find their creative voice.
Designed for immigrant and refugee youth in our community who have experienced trauma, DSM Heroes is based on the successful Creative Pathways model. Artist Mentors create friendly opportunities for arts experimentation and learning in a multi-lingual atmosphere. Weekly workshops based on young people’s individual interests and informal field trips help them adjust to a new culture and build resiliency.
Launched in 2016 as a social enterprise to lift employment obstacles for young adults with criminal backgrounds, StreetCred Studios is a full-service screen-printing shop. Production Assistants learn design, entrepreneurship and work skills that will help them find a better-paying, career-track job in the community. These Production Assistants are mentored in our studio for 3-6 months and launched into a better-paying job or higher education with ongoing love and support from ArtForce Iowa staff and Children and Families of Iowa (CFI).
Program Pillars: THREE FORCE MODEL
Expression leads to transformation. The arts have powerful influence over youth. When youth learn that they can own that power, they can use it to improve themselves and their community. At ArtForceIowa, youth “get their hands dirty” right away, and have the opportunity to participate in a variety of workshops including performance, visual, and digital arts.
Find a creative pathway. ArtForceIowa participants gain resume-worthy experience by working with professional artists who are masters of their trade. Cooperative internships in video production, digital media, and screen printing allow youth to gain skills and experience. We help youth to build resumes, apply for jobs, and practice the life skills necessary to maintain employment. ArtForceIowa is their best advocate as they seek to take on the workplace.
Someone to lean on. We don’t dwell on boundaries. With open minds and empathetic hearts, staff members listen to the problems that youth face and help them to seek solutions to live in a dignified and fulfilling way. Whether it’s at juvenile detention, the court house, or school, we advocate for youth as they tread through difficult times. We might help with homework, scheduling an appointment, or by getting youth referrals to other services and programs.