Youth around Clark County are being encouraged and inspired through the arts with the Enspire Arts Program. Founded by Sarah Lightfoot, who has been a musician for more than 20 years, the organization was birthed from an idea to create a program that would intentionally use arts experiences in a fun and engaging way, while simultaneously supporting social and emotional well being of kids and young adults.
Currently, the organization receives funding through business sponsorships and private donations.
“An initial grant from the iQ for Kids program provided supplies for our After-School Arts Program,” Lightfoot said. “Founding business sponsors RealVest, Black Pearl on the Columbia and Xia Advisory played a significant role in helping us become an established organization. Community partnerships with the Hough Foundation and Columbia Presbyterian Church have brought our programs to Hough Elementary and McLoughlin Middle School.”
Today, the program offers an Arts Ambassador Scholarship program for youth in grades 6-12 studying any art form. The recipients receive $500 towards study and they agree to provide an arts-based community gift. In addition, Enspire Arts offers an After-School Arts Program that provides hands-on learning that blends different art forms to cultivate mindfulness, build self-esteem, and empower youth. The program is currently offered at Hough Elementary and McLoughlin Middle School in Vancouver and Jemtegaard Middle School in Washougal.
“Our programs are unique as we offer a blend of all the art forms in a way that makes them accessible for all, no matter the skill level,” Lightfoot said. “We are dedicated to using the power of the arts to tap into each person’s creative self to develop a sense of personal empowerment and wellbeing. Providing the science and hands on experience, our programs provide support for teachers to grow in confidence using the arts with purpose in their classroom to help each student to be seen, heard and valued.”
Currently, the organization has a board of five members and a team of 10 volunteers. It offers five scholarships a year with scholarship community projects that have an outreach of up to 200 students, and to date, the after-school program serves up to 45 students per year. Enspire Arts has established a partnership with the Camas Public Library to provide community events and presentations and the organization is looking to continuing to build relationships with schools around Clark County, with the goal of reaching more youth.
“We hope that as we grow, we’ll be on site with several schools per year, whether that is for informational presentations, residencies, teacher training or after school programs,” Lightfoot said.
In addition, the organization hosts a yearly fundraiser Celebration Gala that showcases the current Art Ambassadors.
The Enspire Arts Program is still young, but so far, the community has received it well and Lightfoot believes that the future looks exciting.
“The interest from the community for what we offer has been great and we are looking to expand our board, teaching roster and volunteers to help us meet the many needs for this type of direct service to the community,” she said.