About Us

Our Team

Greg Colleton

Greg Colleton

Executive Director

Elizabeth Bowers

Elizabeth Bowers

Director of Grants

Our dedicated and professionally-trained staff is the essence and energy behind our mission.  Small but mighty, Yo Art isn’t possible without their strategizing, fundraising, number-crunching, and partnership building.

Our Mission

Yo Art enhances everyday classroom curriculum with media arts programs designed to spark students’ curiosity and teach real-world skills. Our projects encourage learning through discovery and discipline, improvisation and technique, and provide a fertile ground for creative thought through coding, photography, filmmaking, and design.

Our Vision

Yo Art is committed to closing the opportunity and achievement gaps in Charleston’s public schools through transformative media arts and technology programs. With coding, photography, filmmaking, and design students are encouraged to engage in their learning through a creative and project-based 10-week curricula, which also reinforces a South Carolina core curriculum standard in science, social studies, or math. We aspire to expose Lowcountry students to new and exciting career opportunities to help them succeed in school and in life.

Our Future

Yo Art has an ambitious plan to strengthen our existing media arts and technology programs by growing our programs with pre-existing students to higher institutions of learning, so they can continue to solidify their new creative skills. We also plan to expand our participation in Professional Development workshops, so we exponentially raise the number of students our programs reach every year. If we instruct 20 teachers and they in turn take our programs back to their classrooms, 20 students become 400. Teaching just three Professional Development workshops a year will double the number of students we reach annually, and we plan to teach many more. Learn about our major priorities over the next five years to expand and enhance our organization below.

A Letter from Yo Art!

December 2020

Dear Friends of Yo Art,

This school year has been one of incredible problem solving and creative thinking. Our organization was faced with many challenges and we have answered those challenges with strength and optimism, not to mention many hours of plain hard work!

Accomplishments
Due to the school closures, we developed online programs for our coding classes, as well as our graphic design, filmmaking and photography classes.

We also partnered with Miracle of Youth and launched a Future Entrepreneurship program with a local high school. This will bring business owners to speak to the students and help them develop business plans.

Goals
While we received initial funding for our spring programs from the grant applications we regularly submit, we are compelled to reach out to our loyal supporters for additional financial assistance each year to accomplish our goals and cover added expenses, including acquiring more cameras, computers and other graphic equipment.

We have plans to grow YoArt’s presence in more schools with expanded programs in 2021. Once the pandemic conditions improve to allow in-person classes, we will move ahead aggressively and keep you apprised of our progress, possibly with a live event… sometime later in the year.

In the meantime, if you could help us with our end-of-year campaign, we would be most grateful. We will not be deterred by our present circumstances and will continue the good fight to educate our students in the media arts!

Checks may be sent to the address below, or you may visit our website at www.yorartinc.org

Thank you in advance for your contribution.

Sincerely,

Lori Bate
Chairman of the Board, Yo Art

Yo Art PO Box 12397 Charleston, SC 29422 843.309.3060

History

Thirteen years ago, Yo Art started as a summer after-school art program with 35 students at Sanders-Clyde Elementary. Today, we’ve taught in over 25 schools in Charleston and Berkeley County, and we are teaching close to 1000 students annually.

We’re proud of our enduring presence in Charleston, and we plan to remain an important fixture in the educational community by reaching more students, teachers, and administrators each year.

Timeline

2007   Led by Gene Furchgott at the request of Charleston’s Mayor Joe Riley, Yo Art is founded with a grant from Nobel Laureate Robert Furchgott. Thirty-five students participated in the pilot program. The second year 110 students attended our summer camp.

2008-9   Yo Art is recognized for its innovative and creative after school programming by the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment. Only two non-profits were awarded this honor in South Carolina that year.

Sanders-Clyde Elementary added programs in drama, acting, and photography. Memminger Elementary School added computer arts, and Marion-Stroble taught 100 students Fabric Design. A total of 225 students were enrolled in Yo Art programming.

2009-10   Yo Art added programs to five elementary schools, one middle school, and the Boys and Girls Club in computer arts, photography, landscape design, photojournalism, drama and public art. Seven schools taught 546 students.

Nickelodeon awarded Yo Art with “the Big Green Help” grant for its education through the arts of students in environmental stewardship.

2010-11   Six elementary schools, three middle schools and summer camp taught programs in photography, computer art, journalism, and mask-making using Publisher, Photoshop and PowerPoint.

The Find Your Light Foundation recognized Yo Art for its hard work and dedication to enriching the lives of children through art and creativity.

2011-12   Five elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school taught photography, portraiture, mural painting, and fashion design using PowerPoint, Publisher, and Photoshop. Eight schools taught 459 students.

Yo Art was recognized by the Charleston County School District and Dr. McGinley for providing outstanding art experiences to its students.

2013-14  Thirteen schools taught 708 students coding, photography, fashion design, mural/scarecrow construction using Publisher, PowerPoint, PicsArt, and PhotoShop.

2014-15  Fourteen schools and two summer camps taught 964 students coding, fashion design, landscape design, photography both with cameras and iPads using Photoshop, Keynote, and PowerPoint.

2015-16  Thirteen schools taught 950 students coding, art of construction, photography, flooding study, fashion design, and filmmaking using Keynote, Photoshop, and PowerPoint.

2016-17  Yo Art celebrated its 10-year anniversary in partnership with Blackbaud, invigorated its board with new members from the Charleston community, and taught nearly 1,000 students in 13 schools all six of our programs using Keynote, Google Slides, Inkscape, PhotoShop, Alice.org and CodePen.

2017-18  Yo Art added one school in Berkeley County, Cainhoy Elementary, to our ever-growing list, and, with it, taught nearly 1,000 students in 14 Lowcountry schools photography, coding, fashion, graphic and landscape design. In May, after the retirement of our founder Gene Furchgott, Elizabeth Bowers took over as Executive Director.

2018-19  In the interest of establishing partnerships, we organized our first Corporate Breakfast meeting which was attended by representatives from SC Port Authority, the Halsey Institute, Beacon Community Bank as well as our own representatives from Blackbaud and BenfitFocus.  The Halsey Institute will sponsor a dinner with their current artist and will include Yo Art.  The SC Ports Authority offered to sponsor a program with our photography class.

Further, the Watoto Dance Company will partner with our filmmaking class, Gwynn’s department store will sponsor a fashion event with our fashion design class and the non-profit Enough Pie will partner with Yo Art to develop an awareness program around the concept of “Nourishment”.

We also organized four field trips; one to the Birds of Prey in Awendaw, another to Night Heron Park in Kiawah a third to the Stained Glass Studio of Robert Hines and one to downtown Charleston.  These trips allowed the students to photograph their surroundings then research their subjects and develop reports in class using graphic software.  This is project-based learning at its’ best which is the most effective way to teach students real-world skills.

Fine eatery Edmond’s Oast sponsored Yo Art during its’ May and June wine and beer tastings.

2019-2020  Elizabeth Bowers stepped out of her role as Executive Director to become our Director of Grants.  Greg Colleton is the new Executive Director. This change strengthens our team as it allows us more time to concentrate on important tasks going forward.

In the fall we celebrated and showcased the work of our fashion design class with an event at Gwynn’s department store.  The work was very colorful and inventive and everyone attending had a wonderful time.  Gwynn’s owner, Marshall Simon, graciously hosted the festivities and donated a percentage of sales from the evening.

We were looking forward to our first ever Art Auction in March to share the successes of the past semester and to talk about our future plans when we were unceremoniously interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.  As with all other organizations we were shut down, the schools closed and we went virtual with our on-line programs.  We are looking forward to getting back into the classrooms, but we can only wait for the schools to re-open to continue with our work.  In the meantime we are closely monitoring the developments in the school systems and worrying mightily about the effects on our students.

Yo Art 3 Year Development Plan

Yo Art! Three-Year Development Plan

Introduction

It is with great pleasure that I can write a second three-year plan for Yo Art and report that we accomplished most of what we set out to do in 2017 in record time, sometime during 2019!  By the time the Charleston and Berkley county school systems were forced to close this past spring, we had already established relationships with a number of other non-profits and institutions who were enthusiastically developing programs with our organization that would enhance the education of our students.  Given the difficulty of education during these times, many of these programs have been put on hold while we reorganize and switch to on-line programming.  This is not an ideal way to educate our youth, and we all look forward to getting back to the classroom and to our field trips.  In the meantime, we will develop our lesson plans and continue to reach out to the Principals, teachers and instructors to forge a path forward. Below we share a plan for our next three years.

Mission, Vision and History

Yo Art enhances everyday classroom curriculum with media arts programs designed to spark students’ curiosity and teach real-world skills.  Our projects encourage learning through discovery and discipline, improvisation and technique, and provide a fertile ground for creative thought through coding, photography, filmmaking, and design.

Yo Art is committed to closing the opportunity and achievement gaps in Charleston’s Title One schools through our transformative learning programs.  These programs are designed to enliven the classroom curriculum through creative projects.  We envision students engaged in learning, inspired by innovative instructors and receiving the support they need to succeed in school and life.

Yo Art has a measurable record of accomplishment.  Thirteen years ago, Yo Art started as a summer after-school art program in one school teaching thirty-five students.  Today we are in fourteen schools teaching close to a thousand students.

The Need

Every student needs to have the opportunity to develop vital skills involving media technology at an early age.  These children have no exposure to technology at home.  Without the introduction to hardware such as computers, iPads and cameras; software such as PowerPoint, Photoshop and Keynote; or the necessary skills to make a presentation, many students will fall behind their peers.  It is important to establish skills, such as coding, that will put a student on a successful path to high school, college, and career or they may begin a downward trajectory of disengagement and low achievement.  Once a student enters high school unprepared they are more likely to drop out or graduate four years later ineligible for higher education or an entry into a trade.

The Yo Art Difference

Yo Art offers STEAM based programs (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) to underserved schools in the Charleston area.  This allows elementary and middle school students the opportunity to gain exposure to technology at a young age. Photography, graphic design, coding and filmmaking are offered as part of the established curriculum.  This allows students to explore the possibility of a career in these fields.

Challenges and Solutions

Our growth plan for the next three years is designed to address five key challenges facing students, teachers and the educational system in Charleston.

Challenges Solutions
Too many students aren’t getting the exposure to critical skills necessary to pursue careers in technology and media arts. Yo Art will develop more programs in more schools, especially middle schools and high schools so that students don’t lose the skills they acquired in elementary school.  We will establish a robust vertical program that will build on the base of elementary school experience and build a bridge to middle school programs.
Basic to learning is the use of proper tools.  Students need both hardware and software appropriate to attaining a project’s successful outcome. Yo Art now serves close to a thousand students and our instructors have the schools’ support.  Our need presently is acquiring the equipment necessary for the programs to succeed. In the past three years we acquired 25 new cameras, 40 memory cards, a label maker. Coming soon: iPads, SD card readers and display panels.
Students need one-on-one attention to understand certain concepts regarding technology and design.  Mentors are needed to help students understand and envision a career in technology and/or design. Our new volunteer program will reach out to area companies and institutions whose employees and members can mentor our students.
Yo Art alone cannot fill the gaps in programming in the schools. We have established relationships with other non-profits and institutions that support media arts to allow greater exposure to a career in the arts.  Enough Pie, Halsey Inst., SC Ports, Gwyn’s, Impact 360, MSA and Watoto  Dance Co., Pechakucha, Edmund’s Oast, (8 organizations!)  We will continue to reach out and develop programs.
Yo Art is one organization reaching about a thousand students per year.  We need to make a greater impact. We will initiate a professional development program to instruct teachers in methods of teaching STEAM based projects so that we can reach even more students.

The Next Three Years

Over the past thirteen years, Yo Art has been a major player in efforts to close the achievement and opportunity gaps between low-income students and their more resourced peers.  Since 2007 we have served over 5000 students in 14 schools. In the next three years we have three priorities:

  1. GROW AND STRENGTHEN OUR MEDIA ARTS AND CODING PROGRAM

We will expand our reach by adding new schools and serving more low-income middle school students over the next five years.  While we grow, our commitment to quality and excellence will remain unchanged.

  1. INVEST IN MORE HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE

Our students deserve the highest quality educational experience and that requires adequate tools.  To compete in today’s marketplace, students must be equipped with the knowledge to operate cutting edge equipment and software.  Our program will invest in these tools to keep student’s projects relevant to the market they will enter.

  1. NURTURE STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS

By leveraging strategic partnerships with quality nonprofits and other organizations over the past three years we have provided our students with a vision of their potential in the tech industry, media arts and the fine arts.  We will continue to reach out to these groups to develop strong programs that teach, enhance and provide opportunities for students to understand their place in the future of our community. It is through these relationships, and the experiences they provide, that our students will learn and blossom.

GROW AND STRENGTHEN OUR MEDIA ARTS AND CODING PROGRAMS

Every successful non-profit is comprised of a diverse group of people dedicated to its’ success.   Our central priority is to expand and strengthen our organization to serve many thousands of students in the next three years, and offer all of them the best possible learning experience in media arts and coding.

In the next three years we will:

  1. Add schools and programs.  Just this year another middle school asked us to add our programming to their curriculum.  We were able to attain a grant to allow us to expand into their system. We will continue to reach out to area schools to discuss their needs and fit our programming into their curriculums.
  2. Build our support staff. Currently Yo Art has one full-time Executive Director and one Director of Grants.  Looking forward we plan to add an assistant to our Executive Director. As our programs develop, we will expand our staff to keep our programs running efficiently.
  3. Collect and use data to inform continuous program improvements.  We would like to partner with an institution on a study that will improve our ability to measure short, intermediate and long-term outcomes on students and to inform decisions about growth and quality.

INVEST IN MORE HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE


We are committed to giving our students the best possible experience learning on high quality computers using relevant software.  Media arts and coding are essential skills in today’s job market.  The sooner our students are familiar with the machines and programs they will be using in the future, the better chance they have for success.

In the next three years we will:

  1. Keep abreast of improvements in technology. The “tech world” moves quickly as everyone is well aware. Here in Charleston we are fortunate to have our own Digital Corridor of tech companies who are innovating all the time.  We will foster relationships with these organizations and stay informed of their advances.
  2.  Develop programs that reflect the state of the industry. We will review our programs and develop them according to the need perceived in the job market.  Using current and updated software and modeling our programs to mirror real experiences the students will encounter in their future careers, we can adequately prepare them for jobs in the tech industry and beyond.

NURTURE STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS


Over the past three years we have linked arms with other non-profit organizations and institutions in the Charleston area.  In the next three years Yo Art will continue to look for opportunities with other organizations.

In the next three years we will:

  1. Extend support for our students by connecting them with high impact programs.  We will collaborate with academic and enrichment programs to provide them exposure to media arts and the fine arts in our area.
  2. Enlarge our volunteer program. We will partner with area companies who can supply volunteers to mentor and discuss with our students possible career choices.
  3. Engage with the city and our civic institutions.  We will encourage our civic leaders to support our programs and find areas of mutual benefit.

RESULTS

By 2023, after 16 years of service to the Charleston area, Yo Art will have prepared and nurtured 13,000 elementary and middle school students, placed many in partner programs, and inspired a number of teachers to help educate young students in the STEAM based method.

Conclusion
Guided by our strategy, the next three years will bring us closer to ensuring that all Charleston area public school students get the training and exposure to the media arts and coding necessary to help them find meaningful and rewarding careers after they graduate.

Executive Board members

Lori Bate

Lori Bate

President

Eliot Tuckerman

Eliot Tuckerman

Vice President

Raymond Murray

Raymond Murray

Treasurer

Judi Cline

Judi Cline

Secretary

Advisory Board Members

 Daniel Affourtit, Michael Kelly, and Elizabeth Nicholson

Our professionally trained instructors

 Paige Hetherington, Adam Chandler, Caroline Carey, Raven Greene, Andrew Smock, and Jonatan Guerrero

Join Our Staff

Yo Art’s staff is dedicated to making a positive difference in the world and in the digital divide of the school districts of Charleston. We are a team of collaborative, creative and mission-driven individuals who respect and encourage each other. Guided by core values of community, opportunity, respect, and high expectations, we work together every day to narrow the achievement and opportunity gaps in the Charleston area. Our headquarters are in Charleston, South Carolina.

A wholehearted thank you to Yo Art’s sponsors and grantors:

Financials

Yo Art, Inc., is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization providing creative learning and enrichment programs serving the Charleston area public school system.  Yo Art, Inc., prepares its financial statements in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America (U.S. GAAP)

The Yo Art, Inc., business department supports the administration of finance, facilities, and human resources needs, and ensures the organization is a good steward of the private and community funds it receives.  For more information about Yo Art’s finances and business operations, please contact Director of Finance, Raymond Murray.