The 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.
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 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.
Art 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.
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.
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.
According to the statistics for children in foster care