Arts Invests $300,000 in Seattle Youth

The Office of Arts & Culture is investing nearly $300,000 in more than 40 youth arts programs around the city through two unique funding programs, Youth Arts and Work Readiness Arts Program (WRAP).

“Every investment in our youth is an investment in our future,” says Randy Engstrom, director of the Office of Arts & Culture. “Fostering connections between our creative industries, the artistic community and our youth is what makes our city and community vibrant, vital and successful.”

Youth Arts is a funding program designed to make a difference in the lives of Seattle middle and high school youth by providing arts education beyond the regular school day in neighborhoods throughout the city. These programs give young people a chance to shine, express themselves and develop positive goals for the future. Youth Arts prioritizes youth or communities with limited or no access to the arts. Starting this year the program will reward two-year funding for selected award recipients.

Work Readiness Art Program (WRAP) in collaboration with the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative (SYVPI), funds arts, cultural and community organizations providing programming that links arts learning and paid work experiences for Seattle youth ages 12 to 18 years old.

Two highlights of this year’s award winners are:

  • Somali Community Services of Seattle works for the success of refugees to undergo a smooth transitional process, and attain self-sustainable status in their new country. They do that by focusing on community-based efforts including education, awareness, and safety. The program funded by Youth Arts will offer 50 teens multi-disciplinary art classes taught by artists to showcase traditional Somali art forms. The artwork will be based on Somali films and family interviews.


  • Sawhorse Revolution fosters confident, community-oriented youth through the power of carpentry and craft. They work with high school students of diverse backgrounds from Seattle and surrounding areas. Under the tutelage of mentors, professional builders, architects and cross-disciplinary educators they offer students a widely applicable skill set, opportunities for character development and confidence in their abilities to engage and improve their communities. The WRAP funded program will pair youth with professional artists/contractors to work as an independent contracting company tasked with creating a beautiful, mobile home for the Nickelsville community.



It’s estimated the Youth Arts 2016 funded projects will engage more than 8,000 youth in over 2,000 hours of arts training throughout the school year. WRAP projects will take place during the summer and fall of this year and serve youth in the central and south neighborhoods of Seattle who have been recruited through the SYVPI program. They will link arts learning in the areas of design, media arts, visual and public art, storytelling and traditional crafts with the development of interpersonal, leadership and 21st century skills to boost academic, vocational and workplace success.

For a complete list of funded organizations and artists, visit:

Photo credit: Somali Community Services of Seattle; Sawhorse Revolution photo by Jenny Crooks

WRAP Project 2014: Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association Mural Project

The Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association’s (DNDA) Youngstown Cultural Arts mural project, completed in August 2014, was the final phase of a two year project to address graffiti plaguing South Delridge. The project was made possible in part by a grant from the Work Readiness Art Program (WRAP). WRAP, a youth focused granting program, in collaboration with the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative (SYVPI), provides funding to arts, cultural and community organizations that link arts learning and work experiences for Seattle youth ages 12 to 18 years old.

From July 14 to August 14, 2014 a large scale collaborative mural was installed along the parking lot retaining wall at the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, directly across the street from the Delridge Skate Park.  DNDA and Youngstown staff collaborated with professional artists, youth, and community stakeholders to create the design and paint the 210 foot wall, adding depth, color and art along the busy thoroughfare.

Eight students worked to develop art skills under the instruction of local artists Louis Chinn and Sara Ferguson, who guided the students through the design and painting process. They visited local historical sites and public artworks to learn about the art and history of West Seattle. Afterwards students prepared their initial design ideas and presented them to a panel of city officials, community leaders, and Youngstown residents. They took questions and feedback from the panel, and incorporated what was discussed into their final designs. Student participants not only got to explore their artistic talents while engaging with their community, but also learned valuable job skills they can draw upon throughout their lives.

We asked David Bestock, director of the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center about the highlights of the project:


  • The completed mural reflected the community and history of the area, and further established an artistic and cultural identity for Delridge.
  • Created from youth-generated ideas, it also tells a story of environmental justice along the Duwamish River, and participants benefited from collaborations with the Duwamish Tribe and Longhouse.
  • The community loved the vibrant and expressive mural and the ribbon cutting ceremony was very well attended and covered by local media.
  • In addition, a group of youth enrolled in a RecTech media program at the Delridge Community Center used the creation of the mural as an opportunity to create a documentary, further increasing the impact of the project.

Last year WRAP invested $162,274 in 11 programs that engaged and trained youth as this program did. WRAP applications are currently open for the 2015 cycle and close on April 1. For more information about programs or to apply go to:

Photo credit: Jenny Crooks