Cultural Crossroads is preparing to implement its Art and Soil grant program, part of the “Angels for Change” grant awarded in October by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana.
Project Director Miranda Arimondi says the program is about getting at risk youth motivated to graduate from high school and be successful in life. It’s about offering youth a chance to learn skills that will allow them to become working young adults through the arts.
“The Art and Soil program is about reducing the number of dropouts by encouraging an investment in the arts but also farming and the land as an instrument and as a tool to convince people to engage in something that might give them an inspiration and enough marketable skills to not only graduate but to give them purpose,” she said.
Cultural Crossroads Co-Founder Chris Broussard says the term at-risk youth encompasses a large variety of students, such as students who make decent grades but have no purpose or drive to finish high school, or they could be students who are underperforming but need that extra push to want to finish their education.
“We’re discovering those students that were integrated into art programs have a higher chance of graduating from high school,” she said. “We’re going to document things as we go along, and if we find this to be successful, we’re going to find the money to continue it, although this grant was a one-time grant.”
The program will be offered to about 30 at-risk youth, and in this program, they will design and plant a blueberry garden and take care of it as well as learn skills they can use to obtain gainful employment upon graduation.
“A lot of the things they’re going to do will give them a skill or teach them experiences they’ve never had before,” Broussard said. “And they will be contributing to their community.”
Together, students will also design and create a sculpture at The Farm as well as other team-building activities.
The goal of the Angels of Change grant program, BCBS officials say, is to provide additional support to organizations that demonstrate extensive impact on the quality of life of the children of Louisiana.
In 2015, as a part of their commitment to the Angel Award nominees, the grant program “seeks to demonstrate our appreciation for the depth of work our 162 Angels have performed to help Louisiana’s children.”
The Angel Awards go to those who have enhanced and impacted a child’s life physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually.
Broussard says they expect to start within the last half of this school year and will follow them through the first half of the next school year.