Teen Mentoring: HandMade by Foster Pride

HandMade by Foster Pride logoThe HandMade program was born out of a simple question from a social worker: Could we teach the teenage girls in their residence how to crochet? It turned out that crocheting wasn’t just calming and creative. It spun into an opportunity for students to become entrepreneurs.

The young women in HandMade create and market their own line of highly original crocheted goods under the HandMade by Foster Pride label, which is sold in New York boutiques, in Paris at Milk on the Rocks and online, at Etsy. Students learn about design, marketing, and small business skills, and develop personal and interpersonal qualities such as motivation, collaboration, and sustained effort that will be valuable to these young women as they age out of the foster care system. All proceeds from sales go to the talented teens who run this small business, and who also have the opportunity to secure internships with industry professionals.

HandMade on the Today Show

“One day I’m gonna be walking down the street and I’ll see somebody wearing my hat. I’ll say, ‘I made that!’ And if you don’t believe me, look on the label, it’s got my name on it.”

Jade, 15

“I never knew it was someone’s job to figure out what things cost. I’d like to keep doing this in the future.”

Latia, 16

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Teen Mentoring: John A. Reisenbach Financial Horizons

The John A. Reisenbach workshops help teenagers in foster care develop the money-management skills they need to prepare them for economic self-sufficiency. Students receive a monthly stipend, providing hands-on experience in goal planning, budgeting, avoiding credit card debt and more.

“I learned that if I bought a sweater on ‘sale’ and put it on my credit card and didn’t pay the balance every month, I could end up paying a gazillion dollars for that ‘sale’ sweater. Wow.”

Patrice, 15

“My Financial teacher helped me figure out a budget for after I graduate and get my own apartment. I have to get a job where I can earn $29 an hour.”

Lydia, 18

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I Made It Myself

5299I Made It Myself classes teach art and visual literacy skills to elementary and middle-school students who develop analytic skills that improve classroom performance in everything from science to vocabulary building.

Foster Pride provides a safe and creative place for children to explore their talents and increase their skills in these weekly classes held at foster care agencies and group homes around the city. Children work side-by-side with teachers, volunteers and their birth-parents in workshops designed to facilitate positive communication with fun, interactive family activities during parent/child visitations.

Thanks to a recent grant, our visual literacy programs are used by organizations around the country working with foster children.

“When I grow up I want to make art or teach art
to kids like me.”

Josiah, 12

“There’s no such thing in art as a ‘mess.’ That’s what my teacher told us. He’s says that’s true in life too. Sometimes you just gotta re-work things.”

Rakeem, 13

“I’m good at making things. I hope I get to do this forever!”

Latoya, 11

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Art Is Messy/Life Is Messy

_MG_5284Art Is Messy/Life Is Messy takes place during multi-family visitation times at their foster care agency, when children in foster care have supervised visits with their biological parents, many of whom they see only during these times.  Without structured activities, these visits can be stressful and awkward. Functioning as both an art workshop and a learning laboratory, Art Is Messy/Life Is Messy encourages parents and children to collaborate, communicate and support each other while developing creativity and problem solving skills through artistic exploration. Art can be frustrating and messy—this program teaches parents how to transform this frustration into an opportunity to bond with their children and how to use language in their interactions that will help their children increase their communication and verbal skills.

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Show ON! Exhibitions

arelis-(1)Each year, Foster Pride takes our young artists to the next level of feeling pride in themselves and their achievements—by exhibiting their artwork in a professionally-presented gallery show.

Artwork is framed and mounted and invitations showcasing student work go out to the children, their parents, foster parents, agency workers and the press.

Through these annual exhibitions, Foster Pride students get a taste of the pride and recognition professional artists enjoy when their work goes on view in a public space.

These exhibitions are the culmination of the year’s activities and are a chance for students to share their achievements with parents, teachers, and the larger museum-going public. Foster Pride artwork has been exhibited at, among other places, the National Arts Club; the plaza at Lincoln Center; the concourse at Rockefeller Center; and in the prestigious Lever House Gallery, where it was seen by thousands of New Yorkers.

For children who have few opportunities and rarely receive praise, our annual art exhibitions have special meaning.

“Better than the art work I saw at the Venice Biennial!”

Deborah Gimmelson, art critic, New York Observer

“I knew it! I AM a real artist!”

Dominic, 9


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You Art What You Eat

You Are What You Eat programThe You Are What You Eat workshops explore fresh food, cooking and nutrition through multi-sensory hands-on experiences which encourage children and the adults in their lives to take charge of their diet and make choices that effect positive changes in their health.

“It’s not easy to cook for a
big family and choose foods
that are healthy, but the Foster Pride teacher taught us
some good tips.”

Georgina, 38, foster parent

“I never want to eat vegetables, but we drew a picture of a carrot and then we put all of the carrots in the middle of the table and I recognized ‘my’ carrot! Then we cut them up and made sandwiches and you know what?
They tasted pretty good.”

Paula, 11


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The Enrichment Program

The Enrichment Program provides scholarships to private art classes for talented and dedicated young artists. Students who exhibit interest in a particular medium are nominated by their social worker, birth parent, foster parent or Foster Pride teacher. Foster Pride interviews candidates and provides a local organization with suitable programs and makes all arrangements for classes, fees, materials and transportation and stays in weekly touch with students for the duration of their scholarship.

“Just because I’m in foster care doesn’t mean I can’t do something good with my life!”

Justin, 12

“I don’t mind the hour subway ride to my fashion class at F.I.T. It gives me time to think and work on my designs.”

Patricia, 16

“Using the arts as a launching pad, Foster Pride helps children and teens in their programs develop the skills they need to succeed.”

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer
  • NEED

    According to the statistics for children in foster care

    50% WON'T
    graduate high school

    70% WILL END
    up on food stamps

    7 OUT OF 10 HOMELESS
    people in New York were once in foster care
  • Foster Pride HELPS KIDS IN FOSTER CARE BEAT THE ODDS

    97% MASTER
    new skills

    98% FEEL PROUD
    of their work

    100% OF PARENTS
    say the
    art classes
    helped them
    communicate
    better with
    their children