School of Creativity

SoC aims to provide a safe space for youth in Miami to express themselves through the arts and break the cycle of their circumstances.

Photo of Melanie Rodriguez
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Date You Started Your Project Started

September 26, 2019

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Idea (hoping to get started in the future)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

As more and more schools continue to cut their arts funding, students are left without a creative outlet even though the arts have been proven time and time again to be extremely beneficial for students. Additionally, young adults who are no longer in the K-12 school system can find it very hard to identify creative spaces for their age group. The School of Creativity aims to provide others with a safe space for creativity and expression.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

SoC will consist of strands such as writing, music, theatre, and dance. The program could also expand to afterschool classrooms throughout Miami in order to help those in areas that have very minimal exposure to the arts. We will host weekly class times for each of the strands. The activities will take place in a workshop setting where students will be able to meet and learn from local teaching artists. The idea is for all of the work produced by youth in this space to be centered around social issues that are relevant to their lives.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

As the daughter of Cuban political refugees, the need to create social change has always been innate to me. They always fostered a love for arts and culture and enrolled me in the arts activities they could afford; however, there weren’t many opportunities available to us at affordable prices. I soon learned about the rates at disproportionate special education services referrals and began researching the school-to-prison pipeline and learned how schools are not designed for some students. Bad experiences turn students away from school, but using the arts as a form of expression and healing could help students who are systematically turned away from school. Although some people tell me that my field is simply one of advocacy and no real changes can be made, I am determined to get other people to join me to make a change.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

When a person gets involved with this project, they will gain transferable creative skills that are applicable throughout all areas of their life. For example, if a student comes to us not exactly sure of what they want to do but with a strong love for writing, we could help them develop their individual artist’s voice. This place will be their community to help guide them through the challenges they may be facing in an artistically expressive way. Anyone who joins the program will learn more about social justice and the issues that affect us most in our community such as immigration and poverty. The idea is for the youth who join this space to leave as not only artists but changemakers and global citizens of their community and the world.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

SoC differs from other programs mostly in the sense that it also targets older audiences in addition to school-age youth. Most programs in my community are only offered until the age of 18. However, when you turn 18 you’re left without the creative spaces you may have been used to before. Additionally, this program aims to specifically target the populations who are systematically oppressed by the school system. The program focuses not so much on teaching technical aspects of performance as it does on developing confidence, exploring identity, finding voice, and becoming active citizens.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

With Miami having the fourth-largest public school district in the U.S. and some of the largest colleges and universities, there are definitely many populations with potential to impact. By having youth express themselves through the arts, we are able to find a way to express the issues that affect them and have it be an empowering experience rather than a negative one. Additionally, by introducing the arts to communities that may not have enough access to them if any at all, we are able to start conversations within those communities.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

In the coming months, we will begin to host small workshops across public community spaces in order to build awareness of the program's existence and gauge the interest of participants. Once SoC is well established, the idea is to create chapters of the program to implement across the United States and possibly the world especially in places with low access to the arts.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Program Design

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others
  • T-Mobile page or contact


Join the conversation:

Photo of Emma A

In my opinion, this idea is awesome! The arts are very important and are a great way for people to express their feelings, and encouraging that is amazing.

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