Let art transform you. 


Connecting Creative Passion to Career Pathways

ArtForceIowa is an ambitious non-profit with a mission “to transform youth in need through art.” The organization offers arts-based solutions to youth’s needs by encouraging the growth of creative expression coupled with education and workforce support.  ArtForceIowa’s Creative Pathways targets juvenile court-involved youth, offering workshop opportunities in performance, visual, and media arts, as well as wrap-around casework that provides holistic support.

Program Pillars


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. 




Finding a creative pathway.   ArtForceIowa participants gain resume-worthy experience by working with professional artists who are masters of their trade. In house 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.


Every aspect of our program comes from Art and returns to it.  Research shows that visual, performance, and media arts have a profound impact on youth.  With access to the arts, ArtForceIowa participants will improve academically and develop emotionally, preparing them for a lifetime of success, with the force of art at the core.  




ArtForceIowa makes contact with youth through the following types of programs: Workshops, Internships and Apprenticeships,  and  Individual Support.

Workshops.   Every week, ArtForceIowa hosts three workshops: Screen-printing and HipHop, General Music, and Visual Art. Workshops begin with a group discussion, where each participant talks about the good and bad of their day. Then the creation begins!   Youth rap, sing, play, paint, draw, photograph, and film. We do everything possible to respond to the passions and interests of the participants.

Internships and Apprenticeships.  Several times a year, youth have the opportunity to serve as interns and apprentices in fields such as graphic design, screen-printing, and video production.  While working cooperatively with professional artists, youth gain life skills to join the workforce as well as valuable technical skills.

Individual Support. Youth receive individual support from staff as needed.  We provide one-on-one mentoring and lifecoaching sessions, as well as advocate for youth in school and within juvenile court services.   Youth are referred to other services as needed including therapy, drug treatment, and job programs. 


Measuring Success

We demonstrate success through qualitative and quantitative measures. Quantitatively,  we measures success through tracking attendance and outcomes of participation. Participants are labeled as “engaged” when they participate for 8 successive weeks. Among engaged participants, we then measure workforce outcomes (% of engaged youth that learn a new technical skill, complete an internship, or find a part-time job) and recidivism (% of engaged youth that are charged with a new crime). In ArtForceIowa’s 2014 Annual Spring Report, these figures were as follows:

66% of enrolled youth were engaged for 8 successive weeks in the program.

  60% of engaged youth achieved a workforce outcome.

  24.5% of engaged court-involved youth committed new crimes (compared to 38%, the juvenile recidivism rate in Polk County).

Success is also shown qualitatively through a variety of milestones, based on youth achieving their goals. For example, one youth needed significant support in her last weeks of school in order to graduate. Another youth wanted to explore fashion design and staff helped her to find an internship. These stories add a sense of real world success to positive numbers.

Participant Profile

Creative Pathways is designed for youth who fit a specific profile.  Participants should:

·         Have Juvenile Court involvement within one year of registration.

·         Live in Polk County.

·         Show an interest in the arts.

·         Be between 13 and 19 years old.

·         Be available to participate in at least 1 to 2 workshops per week.





ArtForceIowa is a 501c3 non-profit governed by a board of directors.  The organization is managed by executive program director, John Mark Feilmeyer, with the support of a program assistant.  Professional artists serve as Artist-Mentors. These artists lead workshops and work on internship programs with youth. 


If you know someone who might benefit from our program please  click here or call 515 777 3182.