Rise Up is an 8-year-old program started at the Asian American Resource Center specifically for the goal of educating high school students through the union of arts and activism. By partnering with the Chinatown-based Southeast Asian Community Alliance, we can target low-income students of color in the LA Unified School District and create a space for them to explore art and social change. This space seeks to supplement their limited exposure to creative arts in public school education and transform their ideas of what art can achieve. This is particularly valuable considering the current underfunding of arts programs in public schools, particularly those within communities of color. By providing these high school students with access to art materials, instruction, and experience, we are opening up new avenues of future exploration for these students. In addition to the new perspective we hope for the students to gain through Rise Up, this program seeks to encourage them to further their educational careers toward higher learning. But we believe the power of the program is not only limited to these high school students. As facilitators, we lead and participate in the arts workshops ourselves and have found ourselves transformed and empowered by the radical artistic endeavors we undertake.
This semester, Rise Up is undergoing some exciting new developments that will make the program stronger than ever. The Rise Up committee has successfully applied for and received an Elemental Arts grant of over $2000 through the Pomona College art department. With this funding, we can significantly expand the reach and breadth of the program, connecting more kids to better art supplies than we’ve been able to do in the past. Using the themes of gender and sexuality, we will be guiding Rise Up students to explore these parts of their identities through painting and drawing workshops throughout the semester. We will culminate in an end-of-semester art gallery shown in the Chinese American Museum in L.A. Chinatown!