"We are honored to partner with Free Arts Minnesota as they use arts to help local youth process some tough issues."

Lu Hang, Loan Officer/Financial Specialist, Nonprofits Assistance Fund

Free Arts Minnesota (FAM) is a nonprofit organization that provides youth in challenging circumstances a safe place for expression and self-discovery. Its mission is to “inspire hope and build self-esteem for youth who have experienced poverty, homelessness, abuse and mental illness, using the healing powers of artistic expression and caring adult mentors.”

FAM brings adult volunteers into partner sites, such as shelters, treatment facilities, and child development centers, to work alongside youth while engaging in art projects. Previous programs have focused on visual arts, dance, theater, creative writing, and music. Providing a safe, supportive, and consistent experience goes a long way to helping youth build trusting and positive relationships. FAM was begun as a project of the Junior League of Minneapolis in 1997, and became a separate nonprofit in 2001.

FAM serves as an adjunct program to its partner sites and customizes arts programming to fit partners’ overall goals. This focused approach allows FAM to further support its partners’ work and provide youth with much-needed access to the arts and caring adults. There is no cost for youth to participate in Free Arts programming, with volunteers, donors and supporters helping FAM reach nearly 2,000 youth at 25+ partner sites each year. Over 80% of FAM’s youth have increased self-esteem and an increased sense of purpose because of this program.

Because of the seasonal nature of FAM’s business model, NAF is proud to provide a line of credit for working capital to FAM so it can cover expenses throughout the year for this critical program that helps youth gain confidence in their skills.