St. Louis ArtWorks Will Get a Huge National Award Today from Michelle Obama


  • Photo courtesy of St. Louis ArtWorks.
St. Louis ArtWorks, a local arts program that provides life and job skills for underserved youth, is receiving the 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award today — from none other than First Lady Michelle Obama.

The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award is the nation's highest honor for after school and out-of-school time creative youth development programs. Awardees are recognized for their their effectiveness in improving graduation rates, academic development, college enrollment rates, literacy and language abilities, communication and performance skills and cultural awareness. St. Louis ArtWorks is one of only twelve organizations in the country to receive the honor this year.

St. Louis ArtWorks Executive Director Priscilla Block and teen apprentice AnnaLise Cason are receiving the award at the White House today at 1 p.m. central time. Their organization will also receive $10,000 toward its program. You can stream the ceremony at

“We hope this award will draw attention to the documented fact that programs like ours are essential investments not just in the lives of our young people, but in our community, as well,” Block stated in a press release. “We’re incredibly proud of this achievement and of the young people, volunteers, supporters, board, and staff who made it possible.”

St. Louis ArtWorks is a year-round job training program based just east of the Loop that uses art to help teens explore who they are and their goals for the future in a safe environment. More than 90 percent of participating students, known as apprentices, graduate from high school.

“Our primary goal is to strengthen our apprentices’ core skills in science, technology, engineering, art and math, exposing them to a variety of careers. Our youth also gain professional work experience while earning a stipend and learning the importance of teamwork, social skills, life skills, and financial management — all essential qualities our future workforce needs to succeed,” Block said.

Cason is one such apprentice. The 18-year-old has been working with St. Louis ArtWorks since 2014 and has developed skills in everything from textile screenprinting and photography to stop-motion animation and painting.

“I like to use my art to capture my dreams, music I hear, or something I have read in a book,” Cason stated in a press release. “I want to be an illustrator, and what I’ve learned with St. Louis ArtWorks will help me in the future. I have learned to speak with more confidence, and to be more of a leader.”

To learn more about St. Louis ArtWorks, visit

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