Use Your Life Award Winners
Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com
One artist saw potential where others saw problems—and turned local teens into world-renowned artists.
Seeing Creative Potential
YA/YA gives inner-city teens, many of them from low-income homes, scholarships, skills and a voice. From the beginning, YA/YA attracted teens that didn't even know they had a talent for art.
Artist Jana Napoli had a studio in downtown New Orleans, where there was a lot of tension between merchants and the high school students who were bussed in for school. "When I looked at the kids, I saw an enormous amount of creative energy. I thought, 'I bet there are some artists out there. I bet if they had a studio, they could do some great things,'" says Jana. So, she opened her studio doors to the local teenagers.
Painting a Brighter Future
It was too expensive to paint canvasses, so they began by painting thrift-shop furniture. Now, they're creating works of art for Fortune 500 companies and designing for celebrities. Their high-profile list of clients has included Swatch, MTV, The United Nations, Burger King, Whoopi Goldberg and Spike Lee.
Education and art go hand-in-hand at YA/YA—the students have to attain good grades to participate. They also learn strong business skills from selling their artwork. 50 percent of their profits go directly to the artists, and the other 50 percent is set aside for their college tuition. "It's incredible to be there for the process of watching greatness unfold," says Jana.
Special Thanks to Michaels Stores
When the angels at Michaels Stores, Inc. heard about Jana and her YA/YA artists, they surprised her with $100,000 worth of free art supplies! Visit www.michaels.com to learn more about Michaels Stores.
See what's on YA/YA's Wish List.
For more information, please contact:
(Young Aspirations/Young Artists)
601 Baronne St.
New Orleans, LA 70113