For Immediate Release


(November 10, 2016, St. Louis, MO) - St. Louis ArtWorks’ representatives Priscilla Block, Executive Director, and teen apprentice AnnaLise Cason will receive the 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from First Lady Michelle Obama at The White House in a special ceremony on Tuesday, November 15, 2016.

St. Louis ArtWorks is one of only 12 organizations nationwide to be to be recognized this year for its effectiveness in promoting learning and life skills in young people. The apprenticeship program received the 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the nation’s highest honor for these youth programs.

The NAHYP award recognizes the country’s best after-school and out-of-school-time creative youth development programs for using engagement in the arts and the humanities to increase academic achievement, graduation rates, and college enrollment. The 12 awardees—chosen from a pool of 251 nominees and 50 finalists—were also recognized for improving literacy and language abilities, communication and performance skills, and cultural awareness.

“I like to use my art to capture my dreams, music I hear, or something I have read in a book,” said Cason. “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.”

“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,” said Priscilla Block, Executive Director for St. Louis ArtWorks. “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 using art as a tool to teach essential life and job skills to underserved St. Louis youth.

Cason did not always have the extra money for art supplies and was often too busy to do what she loved most – make time for her art. Being an apprentice at St. Louis ArtWorks gave her the motivation she needed not only to help paint her dreams, but also to turn those dreams into reality.

“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,” said Block.

Ninety percent (90%) of St. Louis ArtWorks’ youth graduate high school and plan to attend college, which is a significantly higher rate than their classmates. The Award was celebrated by a number of its long-time partners and supporters, including the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission and Emerson.

“By engaging and inspiring young people, St. Louis ArtWorks is giving them not just the vision but the skills to build a new and better life for themselves and their families, and for our community,” said Narcisa Symank, Board Chair for St. Louis ArtWorks.“ These young people are learning how to use creative thinking to work as a team, to solve problems and to express themselves constructively. These are exactly the kinds of skills we want them to have to be able to succeed in school, in work, and in life.”

In addition to the national recognition bestowed by receipt of the prestigious award, St. Louis ArtWorks will also receive $10,000 to support its programming and engage more young people from the community.

The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award is the nation’s highest honor for after-school arts and humanities programs. The award recognizes and supports outstanding programs that lay new pathways to creativity, expression, and achievement outside of the regular school day. These programs excite and engage a range of students, cultivating imagination, collaboration, discipline, and academic success—with demonstrable results. They also provide safe harbors after school, on weekends, and during the evenings for children and youth in some of our country’s most at-risk urban and rural settings.

“These amazing programs prove how effective creative youth development can be in changing lives and communities,” said Megan Beyer, executive director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. “They’re improving academic achievement and contributing to high school graduation rates, and they’re providing the opportunity for young people to build the 21st-century skills they need to succeed in school and in life.”

KMOX radio announcement


Photos and photo captions from the White House ceremony will be available for download via Flickr by 7 pm EST on November 15, 2016. To access the photo album (organized by awardee name), use this link: 2016 NAHYP Award photos.

About St. Louis ArtWorks

Since its founding in 1995, St. Louis ArtWorks’ programs have engaged more than 3,000 young people in arts apprenticeships, successfully helping to prepare them for future education and employment opportunities. St. Louis ArtWorks bridges economic, racial and social divisions by providing underserved youth with arts education, workforce development training, and 21st century life skills. The powerful impact of the program is illustrated by the fact that more than 90 percent of its participants graduate from high school.

St. Louis ArtWorks was created to use art as a tool to help youth in our community explore who they are and who they want to be in a safe environment. So many of our youth are repeatedly told what they cannot do, and thus have neither hope, nor dreams for a brighter future. St. Louis ArtWorks listens to teen apprentices, to help them realize that each of them is a work of art and that their choices have a direct effect on their future and the person they want to become.

In 2015, St. Louis ArtWorks moved to 5959 Delmar, one block east of The Loop. The new building includes traditional and digital art studios, a pollinator garden, and a MakerSpace. For more information about St. Louis ArtWorks, please visit

About the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award

First presented in 1998, the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award is the signature program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH). The awards are presented annually in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Created in 1982 by Executive Order, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) is an advisory committee to the White House on cultural issues. The PCAH works directly with the administration and the three primary cultural agencies—the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)— as well as with other federal partners and the private sector, to address policy questions in the arts and humanities, to initiate and support key programs in those disciplines, and to recognize excellence in the field. Its core areas of focus are arts and humanities education, cultural exchange, and community revitalization. Mrs. Obama, like other first ladies before her, serves as Honorary Chairman of the committee, which comprises both private and public members.

For more information about the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards, visit

For more information, please contact Vicki Kahn, Media & Events Manager: 314-325-9540 or