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Mission & History


The mission of Providence ¡CityArts! for Youth Inc. is to provide free professional art-based education and training to Providence youth in a fully developed community-based arts center that reflects, encourages, and promotes the rich ethnic diversity of Providence, our capital city. CityArts’ mission is to ensure our capital city’s most challenged youth access to quality arts programs—unhindered by socio-economic barriers, and celebrating the arts as a means to youth empowerment, community building, and social change.

City Arts Classroom Goals-page-001


¡CityArts! began its work in 1992, with a summer camp assembled by a handful of neighborhood social service agencies, families, and community leaders. The camp was an initial response to the community’s critical need for positive programs to engage youth during out-of-school time. This need persists, and significant demand for ¡CityArts! programs has resulted in year-round afterschool and summer classes which now serve hundreds of youth annually. Today, in addition to working with local artists and educators, ¡CityArts! youth have exceptional opportunities to take field trips to local museums, perform at community gatherings, receive homework help from students attending our partner universities, engage in neighborhood service projects, and have their work displayed in galleries throughout Providence!

Timeline of Accomplishments

CityArts has reached significant milestones in its development, including:


  • CityArts wins a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the nation’s highest honor for after-school arts programs.


  • CityArts featured in Advancing Arts Education through an Expanded School Day: Lessons from Five Schools a report published by The National Center on Time & Learning and The Wallace Foundation.


  • Students from three classes taught by Deb DeMarco and Juliette Casselman worked on mural tiles to revitalize the Bank of America Skating Rink tunnel in Kennedy Plaza as part of the NEA/ City of Providence Our Town project.
  • 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award Finalist. The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, and its cultural partners- the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services recognized CityArts as one of 50 exceptional programs across the country for our work in presenting rich arts and humanities learning opportunities to young people.


  • United Way Community Fund grant recipient. Awarded $300,000 over 3 years to continue quality afterschool programs for underserved communities.
  • Corporation of National Service / AmeriCorps ServeRI award to support EDTAP, Expanded Day Teaching Artist Project. Four full-time teaching artists and 21 minimum time members serve in 2 Providence Public Middle Schools and in our own ¡CityArts! program. Initiative adds resources to schools and communities to expand access to arts learning in order to strengthen and build youth skills towards academic achievement and development.


  • Expansion of Day residency programs to serve Learning Community Charter School in Central Falls, RI. Contracted program to provide over 500 K-6 students arts instruction through integrated arts-learning during the school day.


  • Initiation of first AmeriCorps project in collaboration with Big Picture Company/The Met School and Highlander Charter School. Formation of first team of AmeriCorps Resident Teaching Artists.
  • Recognition as semi-finalist in National Endowment for the Arts Coming Up Taller Awards. Also recognized in partnership with the Providence After School Alliance, by George Lucas Foundation/Edutopia for quality out-of-school time programs and coordination of afterschool services/systems.
  • RI Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission award for excellence in use of historic preservation investment tax credit program for renovation of our 32,000 historic mill building.


  • Entry to newly renovated facility in partnership with Highlander Charter School. Launch of collaborative 21CCLC afterschool program with Highlander, and formation of CityArts day residencies program.
  • Recipient of 2007 Associated Fundraising Professionals-RI award for Outstanding Philanthropic Service Organization.


  • Innovative partnership/alliance with CVS Highlander Charter School and Bradford Dunn Institute to forge new approaches to youth development, education, and community/neighborhood development, resulting in over $7M in public/private investment into the community and complete renovation/restoration of 891 Broad Street.


  • Strong partnerships begin with higher education institutions including the Rhode Island School of Design’s Graduate Program in Teaching and Learning in Art and Design—resulting in significant graduate, undergraduate and faculty participation in CityArts youth programs over the past five years. Additional partnerships with higher education include Brown Univ., JWU, and Prov. College.
  • National Community Development Association, Nelson Community Development Achievement Award for exemplary use of CDBG funds to address needs of low and moderate income families, homes and neighborhoods


  • Recognition by U.S. Senators Reed, Chafee, and Whitehouse, and up to $1M in Federal supports over 15 years including Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, Community Development Block Grants, U.S. Department of Education, and the Corporation for National Service AmeriCorps Programs.
  • Growth of CityArts programs to support over 400 youth per year—a 60% increase of program and budget size over five years. In CityArts’ history, CityArts has grown from a small neighborhood summer arts camp at St. Michael’s Church to a year-round organization that offers rich opportunities in youth arts programs in 12 sites throughout the city.
  • Honored by Arts and Business Council Jabez Gorham Award, RI Monthly Best of “Youth Programs”, and the City of Providence for its achievements with youth programming and arts initiatives.


  • Acquisition of 891 Broad Street, a historic 32,000 sq.ft. manufacturing facility and its development as a community arts and education center


  • Providence CityArts for Youth, Inc. (¡CityArts!) establishes a 501(c)3 charter to become a community arts organization with a mission to provide quality arts programs for at-risk city youth free-of-charge.
  • Organization receives landmark support from the City of Providence totaling over $500,000 in capital funds and program support over fifteen years.