Manchester Guild begins art programs for foster kids

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Artists at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild have begun working with children living at Holy Family Institute and in other group homes to develop their "creative centers."

The Guild and other agencies involved in the program offered a media tour today of a program that began earlier this month in which students take courses in digital arts, photography and ceramics at the education-and-training facility on the North Side.

The supplemental education program was developed by the Guild, working with Allegheny County's Department of Human Services and Holy Family Institute.

The supplemental education program is a two-year pilot effort being funded with a $125,000 grant to the county from Casey Family Programs. That gift has been matched by a $250,000 grant from a local foundation that has asked to remain anonymous. The Guild is providing access to its teaching artists and its studios.

"We are pleased to support this promising program," said David Sanders, a vice president with Casey Family Programs. Casey is a non-profit foundation that seeks to improve foster care and child welfare programs.

Children living in foster care face additional educational challenges, he said. The new supplemental program, which will provide morning and after-school arts instruction, shows a commitment to improving the academic performance of those students, he said.

Up to 60 young people will have a chance to participate. Thirty will come from Holy Family Institute in Emsworth, attending classes Monday and Thursday mornings. The other students, who are living in group homes, will take part in after-school sessions.

Children from A Second Chance, Auberle, Circle C, Gwen's Girls, Mars Home for Youth, Pressley Ridge and Three Rivers Youth are participating in the afternoon classes.

While based in the arts, the courses also will seek to reinforce traditional academic skills. A ceramics lesson could be used to offer insights into mathematics and chemistry, sponsors say.

"This partnership with Manchester Craftsmen's Guild and Holy Family institute will offer our youth ... new opportunities and potentially demonstrate successes that could be replicated in other parts of the country," county Human Services Director Mark Cherna said.

Len Barcousky: or 412-263-1159.


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