Source: Knorr-Bremse Announcement

AVON, Ohio – As many as 180 at-risk high school students in Northeast Ohio will get the opportunity to explore specific disciplines in the arts – and earn a stipend for the experience – over the coming year. And it is made possible by ArtWorks, an exploratory arts education and paid co-op program offered by the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning (CAL), based in Cleveland.

The award-winning program, which is focused on providing arts education and career readiness training to underprivileged area students, has also earned the admiration and support of Knorr-Bremse Global Care North America (KBGCNA). In October, the foundation awarded the center a grant of $50,000, following up on the $30,000 grant KBGCNA awarded to the program in 2020.

KBGCNA is an independent organization operating as the North American arm of a global nonprofit organization – Knorr-Bremse Global Care. The foundation’s investments are centered in the surrounding communities of Munich, Germany-based Knorr-Bremse’s three largest North American companies: Avon, Ohio-based Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC; Westminster, Maryland-based Knorr Brake Company; and Watertown, New York-based New York Air Brake LLC.

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“On behalf of Knorr-Bremse Global Care North America, we are proud to support the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning and its ArtWorks program for at-risk youth in Cleveland and surrounding communities, for the second year in a row,” said Maria Gutierrez, president of KBGCNA and director of corporate responsibility and sustainability at Bendix. “The ArtWorks program provides access to job training and arts enrichment for students who might not have the time, resources, or ability to access them any other way.

“The paid internships help ease some of the financial burdens that low-income families often face. For these reasons, the ArtWorks program is incredibly deserving of KBGCNA’s support.”

A Paid Co-Op in Arts Education and Career Readiness

ArtWorks, CAL’s longest running program, is a college- and career-readiness paid apprenticeship program focusing on arts education and workforce development. Founded by CAL patron Deborah Ratner and recently retired CAL Executive Director Marsha Dobrzynski in 2008, the program is geared toward at-risk high school students in grades 10 through 12.

Students enrolled in the ArtWorks program – referred to as apprentices – train under the guidance of master teaching artists, who mentor them in a specific art form while also helping them to develop skills in time management, professional communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking. Apprentices also participate in workshops that focus on financial literacy, resumé writing, financial aid applications, and interview skills.

Among the objectives of the program is addressing racial inequities in education and workforce development programs. To that end, over two-thirds of its apprentices each year are African American or Hispanic and residents of the City of Cleveland, and more than 50 percent are from low-income families.

ArtWorks also strives to break the cycle of poverty by providing skills and opportunities for young adults to have meaningful careers and lives. The paid apprenticeship is designed to help remove some of the barriers that would otherwise prevent students from participating in the co-op and also takes some of the financial burden off of families.

Opening the Doors to Arts and Careers

This year’s KBGCNA grant will help CAL to cover the cost of the stipends awarded to each student apprentice accepted into the program, along with other developmental costs and high-quality supplies that are essential to the program.

For its part, CAL’s leadership team says the grant is vital for allowing the organization to maintain the level of success it has had over the years and to continue to attract a growing number of students.

The $50,000 grant from KBGCNA will assist CAL in enrolling up to 180 apprentices in its ArtWorks program during its fall, spring, and summer sessions.

During each eight-week session, apprentices are enrolled in one of several co-ops focusing on a specific discipline in the arts, such as hip-hop, emceeing, script writing, visual arts, fashion design, and more.

The co-ops comprise about 10-12 apprentices each and are led by master teaching artists who mentor the students both in the artistic discipline and in a variety of job and career readiness skills. Each session ends with a culminating event called ArtWorks Live, when apprentices showcase the work they have done and share the stories behind their work.