Working with Youth


The intent is to work within the school district.

The Madison Mural Program engages at-risk students through project-based learning so as to help increase school attendance. Educators from Prairie Phoenix Academy in Sun Prairie and the SAIL Program at West High School have told us that their data shows increased attendance for students participating in our mural activities.

We will continue to work with neighborhood centers, neighborhood associations, after-school programs and summer programs. School / neighborhood partnerships such as our recent one with Leopold Neighborhood Association and Leopold Elementary School  which resulted in a painted mural fence and mosaic stepping stones for the community gardens at Leopold Park, will increase.

We intend to devise simple pre- and post- tests which will show positive outcomes for participating youth. We hope to partner with UW School of Education in this endeavor. We currently have service learning students from the UW Service Learning in the Arts class placed with us. We have also been working with the UW Educational Outreach & Partnership Program for years, offering mural making opportunities to College for Kids, Art & Technology, Latino Youth Summit and students from other EOP programs.


A curriculum will be developed that focuses on working with youth to reach their potential.

We will welcome community members to work alongside youth in creating murals – in fact, we will actively seek community participation. We will train community members so that they have realistic perspectives when working with youth. We will make sure that they understand the importance of appropriate boundaries, but of equal importance, the need to find the goodness in every child. We will use a trauma-informed approach, emphasizing the stages to build resiliency. Training will include topics such as: what to do about disclosures of abuse and neglect, how to use open-ended questions to allow youth to talk about their lives while painting, de-escalating volatile situations, and why the arts are particularly useful for making a difference in anyone’s life.

The goal is to eventually develop a curriculum that uses best practice in the field of trauma-informed care of children, with a particular emphasis on using the arts to build resiliency. Sharon Kilfoy, Williamson Street Art Center director, has written a curriculum for crisis care of children for Madison’s Respite Center, a 24-hour emergency crisis center for kids, where she was program manager for 15 years. She also developed the training program for all child care specialists and volunteers providing direct care to kids. What Sharon learned about at-risk kids during her 26 years at Center for Families will be incorporated into the Madison Mural Program arts-based curriculum.

Working with the Community


The Madison Mural Program will have a strong neighborhood component.

One of the most effective ways to engage youth is to help them forge strong connections with their neighborhoods. Helping to beautify their neighborhoods through the creation of murals instills a sense of pride in the participants. Many of Madison’s neighborhoods are pleasant, walkable areas – such as our own Willy Street neighborhood. Others, though, are sadly devoid of art or much that is humanizing. The Madison Mural Program hopes to change that for as many neighborhoods as possible.

Youth will be able to participate in mural projects all over the city – and meet and work with youth from different neighborhoods. We anticipate, though, that some of the most meaningful work will be done right in one’s own back yard.

The Madison Mural Program will address concerns of the longevity of its murals.

We intend to continue to create murals that are designed to last as long as possible. We will continue to work with the city arts administrator to determine reasonable expectations for the life of each work that is created. Maintenance plans will be built into the program.

The Madison Mural Program will forge partnerships.

 We will continue to work with  Centro Hispano, Family Centers, Omega School, the Urban League, United Way of Dane County, Madison Community Foundation, Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission, Madison Arts Commission, Wisconsin Arts Board, Arts Wisconsin, and MG&E, – all past and hopefully future partners. Partnerships with UW School of Education Educational Outreach and UW Art Department are on-going. The Philadelphia Mural Program (with Jane Golden), Harlem Children’s Zone, and other national programs serve as sources of information and inspiration, but the Madison Mural Program is being developed to serve Madison’s own particular needs.