FROM STUDENTS TO STAFF, GLASSROOTS OFFERS OPPORTUNITY- WORDS FROM THE TEAM
CAN YOU SHARE WITH US THE STORY OF GLASSROOTS? WHAT PROMPTED YOUR FOUNDER PAT KETTENRING TO DEVELOP SUCH A UNIQUE PROGRAM, AS WELL AS A RESOURCE FOR NEWARK?
After visiting Tacoma’s Hilltop Artists in Residence in 1998, GlassRoots’ founder Pat Kettenring envisioned creating a studio for Newark area youth ages 10 to 18 to provide glassmaking and business skills to underserved youth who had too few opportunities to become stronger, wiser and more talented young people. The paramount goal of GlassRoots, Inc. was to provide opportunities for achievement to underserved youth by engaging them in the creation of glass art and the development of entrepreneurial and life skills. GlassRoots began in 2001 engaging 100 youth ages 10-13. Today we serve over 3000 youth, young adults and adults annually; growing from after-school programming; expanding programs by adding formal training in color, form, spatial concepts; joining art and STEM education in both practical and creative ways; and adding programs that develop knowledge and skills for youth and adults to succeed in an entrepreneurial economy; and outgrowing our current space.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT HOW GLASS BLOWING IS IMPORTANT FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND TOGETHERNESS.
GlassRoots served over 4000 individuals last fiscal year from throughout NJ. Research suggests, and our programs confirm, that a continuing net of support for disadvantaged students is likely to significantly improve their academic outcomes and reduce the wide gaps in achievement that exist. It follows that under these conditions, students will be more likely to graduate from high school and successfully prepare for college. Our programs use the magic of glass to engage and transform; to bring out talents and creativity, to help students see futures for themselves, to give them important life skills and practical skills, and to create connections (with our staff, with social work and other services, with potential employers and educators.) We can’t imagine more important outcomes.
YOU HAVE THREE KEY STAFF MEMBERS THAT WERE ONCE GR STUDENTS- WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THE PROGRAM THAT PROMPTED THEM TO CONTINUE THEIR CAREER PATH ALONGSIDE OF THE SPACE?
Previous Student/Current Staff Member, Yazmine Graham: The old saying, “It’s not work if you like what you do” is pretty much what I live by. I have worked multiple jobs since graduating from Arts High School in 2010, all of which have satisfied my needs in one way or another. But what makes GlassRoots stand out among all the other workplaces is ultimately what keeps me around; I get the opportunity to create art, work alongside the same people that taught me all that I know about glass, and give back to the community that I know and love. In addition to working at GlassRoots as part of the teaching staff I attend Kean University as an Architecture Design student. My schedule can be pretty hectic with balancing work and classes but GlassRoots has been supportive of my journey every step of the way! What started out as a place of learning for me is now a place I call home – it’s pretty cool that I get paid for doing something I actually enjoy too.
Previous Student/Current Staff Member, Amira Rogers: Whenever I tell people that I’m an artist, their first question is, ‘What type of art do you do’? In 2018 making the statement that you are an artist is so broad that it could mean anything from musician, to dancer, to visual artist, etc. I explain that I am a visual artist and list the types of mediums I work; glass is the one that leaves the biggest impression on people. It’s such a unique skill to have. Working with glass on a daily basis gives me the opportunity to sharpen my skills, and keep that unique ability alive. It’s a bonus that I get to do it at GlassRoots — where I first learned the art of working in glass.”
GLASSROOTS HAS AN EXTREMELY EXCITING 2019, WITH A NEW HOME ON THE FOREFRONT. CAN YOU SHARE A BIT ABOUT YOUR NEW LOCATION AND SOME OF THE CHANGES THAT WE MIGHT SEE?
Through a partnership with the City of Newark, New Jersey Community Capital, Hanini Brothers, Crawford Street Partners and private and nonprofit investors, this project will renovate part of the Old St. Michael’s Hospital, a dilapidated and long- vacant 1867 building. GlassRoots will occupy a dynamic 20,000+ square foot space and be an anchor tenant in the new Newark Arts Commons, collaborating with other educational and arts groups to catalyze the development of the entire neighborhood.