Project Open Door

Since its founding in 2004, Project Open Door (POD) has been connecting RISD students with local teenagers from low-income families, providing them with free, after-school arts education and helping them to prepare for college and creative careers. As a program housed within the department of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design, POD not only gives underserved teens access to a high-quality arts education, it provides aspiring artist-educators and in-service teaching professionals with a demonstration project and learning laboratory.

Teenagers from urban public schools come to RISD after school – from one to four days per week – to learn about drawing and the fundamentals of design, and to prepare solid portfolios for applying to art schools and other colleges. POD volunteers teach and advise these high school students on portfolio preparation and make use of RISD’s resources – especially the RISD Museum, the Fleet Library at RISD and the Edna Lawrence Nature Lab – to give them a safe and inspiring workspace in which to prepare for applying to college. Since 2006 more than 500 teenagers have participated in Project Open Door and all seniors in the program apply to college, with the vast majority going on to earn a degree.


Project Open Door

RISD Project Open Door

Project Open Door stories
Opening Doors That Change Lives
Students Helping Students
RISD's Project Open Door in American Craft magazine

Paul Sproll, Department Head, Teaching + Learning in Art + Design and Director of Project Open Door  (


In informal crits, students are called on to defend their own work and provide constructive feedback to each other.