Art Buddies

07 Mar

Today is my husband’s birthday.  While Brent has many talents, one that stands out is his talent to draw.  He frequently entertains our children at a restaurant by drawing with them.  So, today, in honor of his birthday, I am writing about a program that pairs artistic adults with kids to use the power of creativity to change their lives.

Art Buddies was founded by Sue Crolick, a former Art Director.  In 1993, Sue organized an event for the Twin Cities Chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Artists to help kids at St. Joseph’s Home for Children in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  In 1994, Sue took a leap; she closed her design business and started Creatives for Causes.  She was driven by her passion to help children and started a program called Art Buddies that paired creative mentors from advertising and design industries one-on-one with kids from low-income families.  The program is based on the belief in the power of creativity and one-on-one attention can change the life of a child.  The Art Buddies program helps kids discover their creative gifts, believe in themselves, and dream big.  The children feel joy and pride in their success, and the mentors love watching them grow and help them succeed.  Over the past 17 years, the Art Buddies program has served over 1,800 kids.

The program lasts several weeks.  In the first week, the students are paired with their buddy to discuss their career aspirations.  They have the ability to try on several career outfits such as police officers, architects, dancers, firefighters, and photographers, just to name a few.  Then the buddies help the children sketch out their own career outfit.  The next several weeks of the program the buddy and child work together to design and build their career outfit using cardboard, fabric, paper, and other art supplies.  The program ends with a professional photographer taking pictures of each child in their own career outfit and a parade through the school.

There are many testimonial stories on their website, one that the organization shared with me about I thought really demonstrated the power of the program.  Andy is an eight year old child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  At school, Andy avoided other kids and didn’t want to engage with other people.  In the fall of 2011, he enrolled in Art Buddies at his school and was paired with an Art Buddy named Eric, a creative director at a local web design firm.  At the start of the program, Andy was out of control and unable to focus.  Even though Eric wasn’t familiar with ASD, he came back the next week and patiently kept trying to engage with Andy.  Gradually the two worked together and Andy slowly started to change.  He became so interested in his costume that he was able to focus more and he loved putting on his costume and showing it off.  Andy also started engaging with other kids who were in the program.  By the end of the program, Andy had a new confidence in himself; he now walks to classes on his own, talks to other students, and even developed a few friendships.

After 17 years in operation, Art Buddies is now expanding to serve even more kids and involve even more creative mentors in the community. They now need twice as many volunteers, twice as many donations, and twice as many supplies to keep the program going and growing!

How can you help?

  • Be an Art Buddy to work one-on-one with a child for 7 to 10 weeks during after school time.  You can watch their video to see what it’s like!
  • Make a cash donation on their website.
  • You can also join their mailing list to learn about fundraising events.
  • Donations of supplies are also always welcome.  You can view photos of the costumes kids have made for ideas on supplies, but they love all sort of wild and exciting materials!  Some suggestions include feathers, fabrics, cardboard, glue, pipe cleaners, fake flowers, tape, colored foil, and more!

You can learn more about Art Buddies on their website,  You can also connect with them on FacebookTwitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.  In addition, you can stay connected with Art Buddies by signing up for their e-mail list.


Posted by on March 7, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


Tags: , , , , ,

11 responses to “Art Buddies

  1. Scott Mikesh

    March 7, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Thanks so much for featuring Art Buddies on The Blogunteer! We are so fortunate to live in such a creative and philanthropic community. Hopefully Art Buddies will continue to grow with the help of great awareness building like this, so we can inspire even more kids in our community to DREAM BIG!

  2. Bonnie Thompson

    March 7, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Art Buddies is such a wonderful program. What an inspiration to all of us to have such caring and loving artists, who are willing to share their many talents with these children. This is a program these children will carry with them for the rest of their lives and hopefully, give them the hope and inspiration to live their dream. Thank you Art Buddies!!!

  3. Christine @ Mama Papa Barn

    March 7, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    What a fun idea and organization. I always loved art in school.

    Hopping over the Thirsty Thursday

  4. ratherbechangingdiapers

    March 7, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    That is such a great organization! I would never have thought of something cool like that. Art is a great expression. It sounds like it is really doing a lot of good.

  5. Missy Rogers

    March 8, 2012 at 12:51 am

    we love art around here. there is a program for photographers also where they take a persons picture so they have their own real photograph and it gives people self confidence . I forget the name of it but it is really neat.

  6. Deanna

    March 8, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Wow, that’s a really neat idea and a great way to build a child’s imagination! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Brandina

    March 8, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    What an amazing organization! Creativity is something that society seems to be turning away from more and more each day. When budgets need to be cut, it is often the art programs that start to go first. It always makes me so sad. Kids should be taught from a young age to be willing to think beyond the ideas that everyone else comes up with, to dream for things that don’t yet exist. Giving them the skills and talents to find their way in the world, to be successful, all while fostering their creative side……that’s amazing! Thanks so much for sharing!

  8. Angela

    March 8, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    This seems like a wonderful program! I really enjoy art, in all its forms. I used to take every art class that was offered in school (eons ago). So I know with art it gives you a chance to express yourself in many ways. It is great that so many would donate their time and energy to help a child find his or her creativity! Like Brandina it seems like the art and music classes always seem to be taken away from schools when budgets need to be cut. Art shouldn’t be one of those classes! Thanks for sharing this program with us.

  9. iBlog4aCause

    March 10, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Wish your husband a belated Happy Birthday :)
    This is an amazing idea !!

  10. MayMay

    March 12, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Lots of creativity! Happy belated birthday to your darling husband, i can see he had a wonderful celebration…. Visiting from

  11. Wayne

    March 13, 2012 at 6:58 am

    Love the costumes! Really creative!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: