Chapter 14 - Partnerships
No matter where your program is located, small businesses or
multinational corporations can become involved with after-school
art programming. Business people know that an educated population
provides a good source of employees. When an after-school program
joins forces with local businesses, young people benefit and
area businesses have an opportunity to develop good public relations.
Why should businesses
support education. Educated young people become good employees,
good neighbors and good consumers. A company involved in programs
such as after-school art programs becomes a significant player
in helping to improve the standards of the community by reaching
our most precious resource--children. Youngsters involved in
positive after-school activities are less likely to get in trouble.
They are less likely to become involved with underage drinking,
drug use, gang affiliation, shoplifting and other petty or major
do you start a partnership?
- Know what you expect from a
partnership. How will helping your program benefit the firm and
the community? When approaching the business community, focus
on how partnering with your after-school art program will benefit
- Determine which business to
approach based on its proximity to your site, the products or
services it offers and perhaps whether it employs the parents
of children who would attend your program.
- Arrange to meet with a company
decision-maker: President, Marketing Director, Human Resource
representative or Branch Manager. Be willing to cooperate with
any offer of support and then build on positive interactions.
- If you are not successful with
a business, analyze why they chose not to help, adjust your approach
and then move on to another. If appropriate, ask why they were
unable to help you at this time.
can businesses help your program?
most obvious way for a business to support art after school programs
is through a cash contribution. Some firms have foundations through
which they funnel charitable contributions. Find out about the
application process and funding parameters before you submit
an application for consideration. The foundation board will review
your application to see if you meet their criteria. You may get
what you asked for, a smaller amount, or nothing. The thin envelope
usually is bad news. The thicker reply envelope often means there
are additional forms to fill out before you receive a dollar
Cash is great, but businesses
also can help by donating employee time or materials as in-kind
donations, such as:
||Flex-time for employees
to mentor, teach, do minor repairs and offer clerical or computer
||Metal or plastic
pieces from the manufacturing process to use in collages, jewelry
or sculpture pieces.
||Paper for drawing.
desks, computers, copiers and other office equipment left over
after upgrading equipment or remodeling offices.
||Old wallpaper books
from a paint or wallpaper store to make collages, greeting cards
or clothing for paper dolls.
||Paint to decorate
and brighten studio space.
||Food for children's
||Fabric for quilts,
costumes or drop cloths.
||Topsoil for a garden.
||Wood chips for a
are materials or goods that a business donates instead of cash.
Count these goods or services as "in-kind" income on
your financial statements. Use in-kind donations to supplement
a cash match. A donor may promise to give you $2,000 if you raise
$2,000 in cash or obtain goods or services equivalent to $2,000.
You may raise $500 in cash and then $1,500 of in-kind (donated)
goods and services. Place a reasonable value on items or time
donated when accounting for them.
in-kind donations we have received or that we suggest:
||Rolls of telephone
wire from a telephone company. Use the inner brightly colored
wires to make jewelry, cover picture frames or build sculpture
ceiling lights from the electric company for the gallery and
||A copy machine and
a computer such as those donated by Miller Brewing Company when
they upgraded their office equipment.
||Use of their photography
lab for a photography project, a helpful gift to us from a local
||Used folding chairs
such as those we received from a manufacturing company. Artists
and children painted the chairs in a variety of motifs from fine
art representations to pop art. The chairs were painted so cleverly
that they were auctioned at a fundraising event.
There are no limits. Research
what area companies manufacture or process. How can you turn
their leftovers or discards into a resource for your program?
How can you return their generosity?
Always personally and publicly
acknowledge support you receive from area businesses. Business
people know the power of advertising and the importance of a
positive public image. When you recognize a business contribution
through a news release or newsletter article, the public sees
that the business is community minded and that your program must
be worthwhile to receive such support.
Mr. P's Tire Store
Mr. P. has a chain
of used-tire stores that would not win beautification awards.
The director knew a sculptor willing to work with ten eleven-year-olds
on a project. She contacted Larry, the manager of the tire store
down the street, to see if he had tires we could use for the
sculpture project. He said sure, about 150 tires.
He agreed to have the artist
and children paint tires and create a sculpture in his store
lot. For two weeks the artist and the ten children painted tires
in the store's side lot on a busy street. They constructed a
12-foot man made of tires they painted with bright colors and
designs. Mr. P's employees cheered the young artists along. The
employees became friends with the kids as they worked and took
pride in their tire man sculpture that adds to the ambiance of
The artists, children and employees
all had fun with this project. They felt comfortable working
together, showing off and bantering with neighbors as they passed
by. The children felt welcome at Mr. P's to chat with the employees
and Larry. Both sides became friendly neighbors. Children who
worked on the project are still proud of what they did when they
see "their" tire man.
Mr. P received an incredible
amount o positive feedback from area residents who saw the kids
working on the sculpture and the whimsical finished product.
About this time we began training
a team of teenagers to do murals on area buildings. Mr. P. agreed
to have the teenagers paint his storefront with a bright mural
design. The storefront had unusual siding of wood and lathe that
was worn and tagged with graffiti. We arranged for two artists
to work with a group of kids to design and paint a mural on the
Passersby frequently called to
the children and artists to tell them what a great job they were
doing. People driving by would honk their car horns and give
the thumbs up sign. Mr. P. paid for the paint and a stipend for
the artists and the children. In return, he received a freshly
painted storefront that is distinctive and attractive. The finished
product is delightful.
One major plus to having area
kids work on neighborhood projects is that pieces are rarely
tagged with graffiti or damaged. The kids who work on the art
would not damage their own work, nor would their friends or relatives.
A code of respect develops over murals.
The Pepto Bismol Car
Every community has its
share of abandoned used cars. We partnered with an agency that
trains low-income youth to be auto mechanics and learn to do
body work on old cars. The agency donated two car bodies-an old
Volkswagen and a subcompact car to use as sculpture pieces for
a business district block party. The goal of the project was
to make the kids aware of the advertising that surrounds us and
how firms attract attention to their businesses.
The city arts board provided
a grant to cover this project. Artist Mark Lawson spent several
weeks during the summer working with kids to transform the two
beat-up, rusting car bodies into attention-getting, marketing
tools for area businesses. The kids looked at the cars and made
several sketches of ideas.
They agreed to paint the Volkswagen
a nice bright pink, putting a pig snout on the front and a little
piggy tail on the back. They created a slot on the top and poised
a large wooden coin half way through the slot to transform it
into a large pink piggy bank! Adults who saw the car thought
it to be the exact replica of Pepto Bismol pink.
The other car had a longer rounded
body. The kids decided to paint it battleship gray. They painted
porthole windows around the sides and converted it into a submarine,
complete with a periscope on the roof.
"Wow, when I looked out
my window and saw real cars being dropped off in the back lot
I could not believe it---real cars! I thought we would be making
little models. I just could not believe we would be working on
real cars. It was great!"
Hands On, Art After School student
Because the cars were
just shells, it was easy to transport them for display at a merchant
block party three miles away. The boys had a delightful time
helping move the cars in the artist's pickup truck. They were
fun of excitement from the moment they realized they would be
working on "real" cars and using real power tools.
They were amazed to see their cars on display for the public.
The cars were a delightful attraction at the festival. After
the block party, two businesses used the submarine and pink piggy
bank cars as signage.
Local newspapers ran photos of
the cars at the block party. Press coverage reinforced the benefits
of an after-school art program by showcasing successful projects.
Include copies of these types of newspaper photos and articles
with final reports to funding agencies to document the project
and use of funds.
Collaboration with businesses
produces friendly interaction among people who might otherwise
not get to know one another. Through our collaborations, local
business people became familiar with the kids and they greeted
each other on the street. This rapport is what keeps a community
strong and builds future ties. When these kids are old enough
for part-time or full-time employment, the business people who
met them through art after school programming are more likely
to hire them because of this networking opportunity.
"We enjoy seeing the children
come out of the art center taking their projects home. They are
always smiling. Others times we see them, they don't look very
Employee, car shop
across the street