Art Start connects youth with artists and creatively-minded professionals to create opportunities for deeper engagement, relationship building and mutual learning.

For over 30 years, through weekly workshops, one-on-one mentoring and specially curated projects, Art Start has enlisted over 12,000 mentor artists to help deliver our nationally recognized model of arts-education.

Mentoring for Art Start is more than just giving back — it’s life enhancing for all involved. Paired up with young people whose dreams far surpass their immediate circumstances, artwork is just one of the magical results. Your ideas, your time, your expertise and your willingness to make a relationship with an Art Start youth will open up their minds to seeking opportunity and plowing towards their goals — not to mention how it will open up your own artistry and creativity.


Art Start mentors have many ways to contribute to our mission:

Creative Collectives

  • Commit to a full “session" (3-4 months), one night per week, with no more than two absences at a partnering transitional housing center.

  • Workshops are 1.5 hours long and take place on weeknight evenings, between the hours of 2-6pm and are located within the New York City boroughs...

Creative Connections

  • Mentors work one-on-one with teens in the Emerging Artists Program meeting 2 or 3 times monthly.

  • The scope of the mentorship may include working on a specific project goal such as an art portfolio, learning/improving a creative skill and visiting local relative cultural events.

Public Exchanges

  • Support the Art Start Portrait Project production - We welcome experienced artists including makeup artists, photographers, videographers, production assistants etc. to volunteer their time and skills in the production process of the Portrait Project.

  • Support the Art Start Portrait Project exhibition - We appreciate gallery spaces, curators, installers who are interested in supporting the exhibition of the project.

Art Start mentors...

  • Have a background or interest in the arts and a willingness to help lead a project based on your interests.

  • Have experience working with groups of children or teens, either in a classroom setting, summer camp, daycare, or large family.

  • Have a positive, open mind, and believe that anything is possible with vision and commitment.

  • Attend a group info session, one-on-one interview and $60 GoPass fingerprint and background check, and undergo a mentor artist orientation for 2-3 hours during the week directly preceding the start date of your session

volunteer application

Art Start's Creative Collectives are creative arts workshops up to five days a week with youth and families experiencing homelessness. Our Emerging Artists Program is a space where youth can explore, learn and grow into their own place in the creative arts industries through connections to exhibition & performance opportunities, internships, mentorships and formal coursework. In our Emerging Artists Program, mentors are paired with one teen artist providing career counseling and professional and creative support.

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