On Thursday, November 13, 2014, Youth Designs, a non-profit Boston based organization that seeks to prepare and empower a diverse cadre of creative urban youth to become the next generation of designers, held its 2nd annual Designer Carnival Event at the W hotel.
I was thrilled to be invited to attend their annual event that supports Youth Design's mission to help change the life course of creative urban public high school teenagers by empowering them to pursue a path to higher education and promising equitable careers. For those that don't know, Youth Design is Boston's leading program that focuses on addressing the critical socioeconomic needs of urban youth by teaching them highly marketable design skills. By engaging the professional design community to mentor, the hope is that the next generation of "Youth Designers" will develop the skills necessary to achieve economic self‐sufficiency. After all, as a society, we depend on the arts to carry us toward the fullness of our humanity, it is through the arts that we are able to provide bridges between cultures, as well as embody the accumulated wisdom, and imagination of humankind.
In fact, a recent National Endowment for the Arts study has found that lower-income students have higher academic results, college aspirations, and civic participation when they are engaged in the arts for long periods of time. Which is why since Youth Designs was piloted in 2003, it has made it their business to give back to Bostons future through their youth by pairing their students each year with access to unparalleled professional mentors that can support them along their path and luckily, this year was no exception.
This years mentor of the year award was presented to Jay Calderin, who the Boston Globe once referred to as "a budding designers best friend," and rightfully so. After all, no one recognizes the importance of this student/mentor relationship better than Calderin who prides himself on mentoring the creative youth both through philanthropy and as an instructor and marketing guru at the School of Fashion Design as well as through his work as the executive director of Boston Fashion Week.
In the words of Calderin, "One should never stop learning. Being involved in a perpetual education and nurturing a boundless curiosity are the only ways you will evolve as a designer."
An organization that invests in our youth in order to better both them and our society as a whole? Now that's what I call the perfect merger of art and heart.