United Way Mini-Grant Helps El Paso Youth Aim for College while Learning about Careers in Fine Arts

The United Way of El Paso County Kids’ Way program began in 1999, to teach El Paso’s young children the value of philanthropy. Over the past several years, program participant Region 19 Head Start has raised more than $50,000 by children and their parents though various fundraising efforts, including the notable “Pennies for Change” collection.

This year, the program has raised $10,000 and United Way’s board of directors
allocated an additional $20,000 towards the program’s efforts, which directly
impact children and/or youth in one of the United Way of El Paso County’s three
impact areas: Education, Basic Needs, and Income.

One recipient agency was kind enough to share how the funds have impacted kids enrolled in their Art Program. Shane Weller of LULAC National Education Service Center shares photos of a recent program activity and his story below.

My name is Shane Weller and I work for LULAC National Education Service Center (LNESC) in El
Paso, Tx. Our goal at LNESC is to create college bound students by the time
they graduate High School. I can say the Untied Way Mini Grant impacted our
organization by providing us additional resources including supplies, stipends
for workshop presenters, and travel expenses that undoubtedly assist us in
reaching our goal.

With this grant our organization wanted to use art as a way to inspire students to
stay in school and maintain passing grades as well as teach them about the
various careers available in the Fine Arts field.

The goal of our Art Program is to keep kids (ages 11-18) interested in
academics by putting them in direct contact with professional local artists,
teaching them about careers in Fine Arts, and teaching them about the art economy
by having them create their own art and sell it like professionals do. We are
currently targeting Hillcrest Middle School and Parkland High School.

We kicked off our program at Hillcrest Middle School on Friday November 16,
2012 with our annual Career Day. We recruited Victor Muheddine a prominent
local artist to come speak to the students enrolled in our program at Hillcrest
Middle School. We had Mr. Muheddine speak to the students about his education
at UTEP as well as his career in the Fine Arts. Thanks to funding from the
United Way Mr. Muheddine will also be a workshop presenter for these students
and will teach them how to carve and mold plaster pieces that will eventually
be sold by the students at the Downtown Art Market.

-1On Friday November 11, 2012, we continued bringing the art experience into the
classroom by teaching students about t-shirt printing industry. We taught them
about the many ways t-shirt printing is carried out and explained how many
people make a living solely on creating t-shirts for various industries.

Using funds from the United Way Mini Grant our organization renting a heat
press and purchased shirts and materials so that students could make their own
t-shirts that will be worn when they go on the final field trip to sell their
art at the Downtown Art Market.

All of these small successes have been made possible because of the funding
from the United Way Mini Grant. With these funds from the United Way we have
been able to hire additional staff to conduct workshops, rent and purchase
equipment and supplies that go directly to the students, as well as get
students actively involved in our own local art community.


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