Life Pieces to Masterpieces uses art to transform the lives of DC’s 7th and 8th wards’ most vulnerable population, young African American boys and men. Paintings allows their voices to be heard and through this medium they communicate what they want and expect of America, their family and community and themselves. This program asks questions few people bother to ask and through art we get insight into the complicated minds and the resilience of youth who face unthinkable challenges daily.
LPTM was co-founded by Larry Quick, Ben Johnson and Mary Brown. Larry, a professionally trained artist and native of Ward 7 used art to guide him through his personal challenges, an experience he used to create the artistic style of LPTM. Ben Johnson a skilled fundraiser shaped the development strategy that allowed Life Pieces To Masterpieces to sustain and grow to its present capacity. Mary Brown, a nurturing personality, brought an expertise in youth development which was critical in creating a curriculum to foster positive life skills.
The H.O.P.E. Scholarship Initiative had the opportunity to chat with Selvon Waldron, Director of Development and Grants on the methods and beliefs of LPTM, LPTM programs and LPTM achievements.
Why did LPTM decide to focus its work on young men?
More than 90% of our apprentices live in DC’s wards 7 and 8. It is 4 times more likely for a male living in Ward 7 and 8 to end up in prison than in college. One hundred percent of our apprentices qualify for free/reduced-priced lunch. Our young males come from communities with a myriad of challenges including: social, physical and mental health problems as well as gang activity. The challenges in their community are compounded by a lack of positive male role models—over 70% of households are headed by single females in both Wards. Male unemployment in Ward 7 and 8 is over 25%. Our program addresses these needs: (a) Positive Male Role-models (b) Closing the Achievement Gap, and (3) Artistic Expression
What role does Art play in the education of a child?
The arts play an essential role in providing each student with a well-rounded education that meets the needs of the whole child. According to Americans for the Arts, art stimulates and develops the imagination and critical thinking, and refines cognitive and creative skills, has a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of every child and has proven to help level the “learning field” across socio-economic boundaries, strengthens problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, adding to overall academic achievement and school success, and develops a sense of craftsmanship, quality task performance, and goal-setting—skills needed to succeed in the classroom and beyond. We have seen the benefits with our apprentices. 100% of our parents state that they see an improvement in their sons’ behavior and outlook on life.
Does it take a village to raise a child?
Yes! LPTM surrounds our apprentices with mentors, Lead Teachers, Art educators and a loving staff. Life Pieces To Masterpieces educates our apprentices to be global citizens. Our young boys and men learn that they are part of a far-reaching community and are introduced and exposed to different cultures and countries and meet volunteers and visitors from around the globe.
What programs are Life Pieces currently executing?
After-School Program: This program annually engages over 150 Apprentices in rigorous after-school tutoring, literacy training, math skill development and computer training. Our partnerships with American University (DC Reads) and George Washington University bring 35 specially trained tutors to LPTM to work with our Apprentices on math, reading comprehension and phonics every day.
Literacy Through the Arts: This program is designed specifically to engage Apprentices on a weekly basis in our creative process: Connecting, Creating, Contributing, and Celebrating. The process guides Apprentices to channel their life experiences using the creation of acrylic collage paintings, original poetry, prose, oratory, movement/dance and music.
LPTM Education Architects (EA): an innovative approach to address the barriers that prevent urban youth from being fully receptive to learning. It is also a Workforce Development program to increase the number of Black males serving as teachers. Our trained EAs serve as teacher aids and engage students at schools in LPTM’s curriculum in coordination with consistent dosage of instructional support at select pilot schools during the day. EAs support classroom teachers and influence classroom culture and environment my integrating LPTM’s creative currency and social-emotional learning into class sessions.
What has been the highlight of Life Pieces in the past year?
- 100% of our young men graduated from high school and have gone on to pursue post-secondary education
- LPTM was chosen as the sole non-profit to be featured and receive proceeds and recognition during the 2013 BET Honors.
- Life Pieces To Masterpieces was one of 94 organizations that participated in the 2013 National Day of Service
- LPTM’s co-founder – Mary Brown – was honored by Georgetown University with the 2013 John Thompson Jr. Legacy of a Dream award.
- LPTM Urban Teacher Training team was presented at the Coalition on Schools Educating Boys of Color and the National College Board conference in Chicago in April and May 2013.
- LPTM was profiled on National Public Radio during April 2013.
- LPTM was featured on Voice of America in May 2013.
How can people donate to Life Pieces?
Life Pieces To Masterpieces appreciates all donations and contributions to our mission. Friends of our program can support by submitting a donation via: http://www.lifepieces.org/support-life-pieces or via mail to 5600 Eads Street NE, Washington DC 20019 (make check payable to – Life Pieces To Masterpieces).
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