This past Saturday I had a lovely experience with Publicolor, the non-profit that takes their own stab at inspiring kids to graduate high school. They reach their mission through paint and democracy. Publicolor will invade a school for a few weeks to teach kids color theory, how to paint properly, and invite volunteers on Saturdays to join in on the fun. The kids vote in the beginning of the project what colors scheme they want in the school, and choose from a palette of beautiful vibrant colors.
It was a commitment from 9:45am-3pm out at JHS 22 in the Bronx and each volunteer was paired with a member of the “Paint Club”, a student from the school we were painting. Publicolor’s intention is to get adult volunteers to facilitate in the painting and also have upbeat positive conversation about college and the future. After they are done with a school they induct 10 students into their apprenticeship program to paint with a stipend.
It’s always a humbling experience to hang out with kids and be reminded what schools are like. They had the exact same chairs and desks as I did growing up, and of course I felt a bit nostalgic! The school itself was actually a lot nicer than I expected with all the talks in our flaws in the education system. Perhaps we are having issues with teachers and curriculum, but the actual infrastructure of the school seemed very solid and up-to-date (no doubt with help from organizations and good management from the school).
I have only done Publicolor once before and it seems the organization has come a very long way. I vaguely remember not having enough gloves, rollers/rods, but they currently have a great partnership with Benjamin Moore and get all of their paint donated. The only thing that I regret about the experience is not being able to have a more long-term influence on the students’ lives! It always makes me feel extra guilty when they ask if you are coming back the week after and you know you aren’t.