Youth Solutions

youth and community development program through art and design 

The Arts Council’s Youth Solutions program is a cross-sector, collaborative youth development initiative with youth and artists at its core.

Aiming at addressing youth trauma and disconnect, neighborhood blight, and under-investment in local artists as change agents, Youth Solutions (Y=S) enables the Arts Council to leverage a core asset – artists – to implement neighborhood projects designed by for our primary future asset: youth.

Arts Council New OrleansRecipient of an ArtPlace America Grant and  NEA Our Town Grant, Youth Solutions is structured as a multi-year pilot program that will document and provide evidence of impact when youth are empowered to strengthen their own neighborhoods using Creative Placemaking



Youth Solutions has three primary components:

  1. curriculum toolkit, developed by art+design, education, and youth development professionals that integrates art and design education with psychological and social-emotional skill building.
  2. An accompanying evaluation and impact assessment framework, developed with the Louisiana Public Health Institute, which outlines five impact areas and objectives, connects these objectives to measureable indicators, and offers tools/metrics for assessment.  Both the toolkit and curriculum framework will be made available at no cost as a resource for other organizations.
  3. A series of programmatic partnerships in which the Arts Council works with local youth-serving organizations to amplify their work by bringing it into the public realm through Creative Placemaking.

In the summer of 2015, the Arts Council sponsored the Creative Intelligence Academy (CIA), in which 14-18 teenagers worked with artist and designer-mentors to conceptualize, design, and build a physical intervention on a vacant lot in Central City.  Throughout 2016, we seek to expand our impact by partnering with several youth serving organizations in Central City to elevate their work by bringing it into the public realm through creative placemaking.

Because Youth Solutions combines youth arts education, public health, and impact measurement methodologies, we have established the following institutional partners for this program alone:

We have also gathered a Youth Solutions Working Group of artists, youth educators, community activists, and caseworkers representing a broad base of professional and indigenous knowledge.

Interested in learning more about Youth Solutions? Contact co-directors Heidi Schmalbach ( or Jose Cotto ( We look forward to hearing from you!


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