How Austin kids get creative

Nothing re-charges the brain like art. This week my son is in the Creative Action Spring Break Camp, and he’s so pumped he’s like a new child.

Creative Action is loading him up with music, theater, film-making and collaboration. Every day he comes home so much more talkative and curious about the world. My son is a good student — great grades, great behavior, all of that. But he seems more energized after eight hours of camp than he does after seven hours of school.

This is not a slite to his teacher. She is building the foundation for his education. But his experiencing the arts seems to add so much more.

There are other organizations like Creative Action, but it’s the biggest. Because of that, it serves more than 16,000 kids across Central Texas, most of them Hispanic.

Hispanic kids benefit the most from nonprofits like Creative Action because in Austin most of them would not otherwise have these experiences. (My son is Hispanic, too.) Austin Hispanic children tend to be the same children who qualify for reduced lunch and other government-assistance programs. That means their families struggle to make ends meet; arts classes might seem a luxury.

Which is why these nonprofits are so important. Studies show that when a child is engaged in the arts, they are more likely to stay in school, get better grades and behave better. They’re also more likely to have the creativity and problem-solving skills that employers require.

Here are a few other nonprofits that bring arts to Austin kids. Reach out to them and learn how you can help.

Creative Action

The mission of Creative Action is to spark and support the academic, social and emotional development of young people. Through interactive classroom performances, after school arts residencies and community-based programs, Creative Action’s team of professional Teaching Artists inspire youth to be creative artists, courageous allies, critical thinkers, and confident leaders in their community.


Latinitas enables young Latinas to achieve personal and academic success through media and technology outreach, thereby addressing the critical state of Latina girls today. While Latina girls ages 12 to 17 are the largest group of minority girls in the country, they are more likely than their non-Hispanic peers to face the four most serious threats to achieving success: depression, pregnancy, substance abuse and becoming a high school drop out. The solution lies in empowering these young Latinas, strengthening their confidence and expanding their opportunities. With a variety of enriching experiences, Latinitas discover their voice and develop media skills while building a solid foundation for their future.

Anthropos Art

Works primarily in the East Austin community to bring top professional musicians into low-income middle and high schools to offer free music lessons, workshops, master classes, and performance opportunities to economically disadvantaged youth. In a district with an average graduation rate of about 60 percent, students in the Anthropos program have maintained near 100 percent graduation rate with approximately 80 percent of those students continuing on to college, most of on full or partial scholarships.

The Cipher

The Cipher – Austin’s Hip Hop Project is on a mission to build a community of young leaders and engaged hip hop artists and to strengthen the East Austin community in multiple ways. The creative expression and public performances encouraged through “The Cipher” create a group of confident and engaged young people. They leave our program empowered, authentic and connected to the Austin music and poetry community. The program provides these young people with positive learning experiences through which they gain new skills and competencies, build self-esteem, improve academic performance and expand possibilities for their futures.

Each of these organizations treat their volunteers and donors right. Contact them to get involved.


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