Students Helping Students
For many high school students in urban public school districts, hopes of a college education are often dashed by endless obstacles. To address these challenges through the arts, RISD’s department of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design established Project Open Door (POD), a free, after-school college preparation program for low-income teenagers in Rhode Island’s urban schools. Students who make a commitment of time, effort and enthusiasm for art and design receive high-quality studio experiences, individual mentoring, guidance through the college application process and exposure to campus life.
Since its founding in 2004, Project Open Door has engaged hundreds of young adults in after-school and summertime art and design programs. In addition to benefiting from enriching time working in the studio, POD students present their work in gallery exhibitions, learn through critiques with established artists, and have opportunities to explore RISD’s museum, nature lab and library.
The success of Project Open Door is measured through the many students who have gone on to find success at college. In 2010, 25 high school seniors involved in the program got into the colleges of their choice – and six are now attending RISD. These promising results are due in part to the dedication of the RISD undergraduate and graduate students who mentor aspiring teenage artists and designers each year. For both the high school and college students involved in the POD, the rewards are mutual. As one RISD Master of Arts in Teaching candidate pointed out, “Working in the after-school program was an ideal first-time teaching experience.”
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