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“Art is everywhere, except it has to pass through a creative mind”
– Louise Nevelson

Anonymous, Artistic Noise, 2011Creative youth development (CYD) is an intentional practice that fosters active creative expression through the arts, humanities, and sciences, while developing core social, emotional, and life skills, for youth of all ages. Creative youth development programs approach young people as active agents of their own change, with inherent strengths and skills to be developed and nurtured. The overall goal is that culture plays a major role in supporting the growth of creative, productive, and independent minded citizens and thriving communities.

Through YouthReach more than $13 million has been granted to 120 organizations over the past 23 years, reaching over 40,000 vulnerable young people, their families, and their communities. The YouthReach Initiative has been supported since its inception with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. YouthReach is a model program that has received national recognition, with many projects cited for excellence by the prestigious National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards given by the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities. In November 1998, the YouthReach Initiative was honored by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies with the first annual Innovation Award, which recognizes "best practices among state arts agencies.”

The goal of YouthReach is to promote integration of substantive out-of-school arts, humanities, and science opportunities into a collaborative response to the needs of young people and communities.  The program aims to develop and deepen opportunities for young people to create a more just and equitable society through their art-making and to position Creative Youth Development Programs as key leaders in discovering and developing opportunities to improve the livability and economic vitality of their communities.  To this end, YouthReach works to foster dynamic cross-sector collaborations to ensure young people’s academic, professional, and personal success. 

Eligibility Requirements
YouthReach supports innovative programs that:

  • Provide safe and healthy youth spaces.
  • Are assets-based.
  • Are youth driven.
  • Foster the development of positive relationships and social skills.
  • Set high expectations for growth and learning.
  • Address the broader, cross-sector context in which creative youth development exists.

YouthReach encourages collaboration between cultural organizations, human service agencies and other organizations. The primary applicant for a YouthReach project must be a nonprofit cultural organization or an organization having a strong programming history in the proposal's primary discipline. For information on applying, please see the application instructions.

YouthReach is a part of the Mass Cultural Council's Creative Youth Initiative.

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