Give STL Day Spotlight: Freedom Arts & Education Center
By Ranen Miao
Community Investment Intern
Many of the historic racial and socioeconomic inequities in society begin in childhood, with unequal investment in the potential of young people. Since 2012, Freedom Arts & Education Center (FAEC) has worked to empower young black youth in systemically divested communities to become highly creative, literate, passionate and independent individuals. By unlocking the infinite potential of youth through quality and diverse arts education, academic enrichment, mentoring and employment opportunities, FAEC has been at the forefront of inspiring young people and equipping them with the skills to thrive.
Freedom Arts & Education Center has fundraised through Give STL Day for seven years already. However, 2020 was particularly important because of the way COVID-19 destabilized FAEC’s pattern of progress.
“Before the pandemic hit, we were enjoying a season of outstanding growth and consistency with our youth,” explained Andrew Gibson, Executive Director of FAEC. “However, with COVID-19, parents lost jobs or had hours reduced, students lost academic opportunities and houses became overcrowded. Operationally, we have lost income due to teaching contracts with our partner organizations being cancelled,” Gibson said.
These challenges are why Give STL Day was so pivotal for FAEC.
“Give STL Day remains our biggest fundraiser every year,” Gibson praised. “It excites our community, deepens our connections with our supporters and helps us reach new donors.”
This year, even with a gentler fundraising push cognizant of economic hardships in the community, FAEC raised $10,000 on Give STL Day. This funding will enable FAEC to continue investing in young black scholar-artists and continue the battle for racial justice, police brutality and white supremacy.
“Freedom Arts will continue “leveling the playing field” for black youth from systemically divested parts of the St. Louis region. We will continue to be leaders in organic, authentic nonprofit growth in the areas of arts, education and mentoring for our youth and their families,” said Gibson. “The heart of our mission is to see the lives of our scholars changed for good, breaking the cycle of poverty in their generation, and empowering them to heal and restore their communities. We will continue to remove the obstacles that we can and empower them to overcome the ones that we can’t.”