Xavier C is a 16-year old junior at St. Benedict's School in Newark. It was his Business and Finance teacher that encouraged ‘X’, as everyone calls him, to apply to our Business and Entrepreneurship program. At first, he was discouraged, thinking family finances would bar his participation; his teacher told him to apply anyway. Donated funding made the program an affordable reality for X. While he had no prior experience with glass, he was moved by the danger of the hot shop; “It is like bathing in molten lava,” he said. Inspired by his love of video games, his idea was to target the market of avid fans who would love to collect their favorite characters rendered in glass. He liked how the process of creating a business plan gave him an additional window on the concepts that he was learning in his personal finance and business classes at school. It made the school lessons come to life. X will be working nearby over the summer; just a few blocks away from GlassRoots. He hopes to spend as much time as he can back in our hot shop.
This afternoon, over a dozen greater Newark high school students who have spent the last academic year creating their own glass art and an accompanying business plan for marketing and selling their one-of-a-kind pieces will showcase their work at our 13th Annual Business Plan Competition and Trade Fair. The GlassRoots FLAME and Business & Entrepreneurship Programs, dedicated to nurturing and guiding the entrepreneurial spirit, are modeled after the curriculum from the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, an international non-profit organization that introduces youth to the world of entrepreneurship.
Youth entrepreneurship is a proven strategy that positively impacts the lives of young people, particularly those hard to reach, disadvantaged and at-risk youth we serve here at GlassRoots. Participants in our youth entrepreneurship programs have shown improvements in their communication, decision-making and goal-setting abilities and have an increased interest in attending college while simultaneously decreasing their exposure to at-risk behaviors. Over the past three years, 100% of our students eligible to graduate from high school have in fact graduated, with most heading to postsecondary programs.
Our programs offer a plethora of benefits, including financial education, role models and the necessary tools to successfully design and operate a business. These programs also offer our youth an opportunity to take risks, manage the results and learn from the outcomes while also motivating them to be productive and engaged in their communities.
This year, students in the school-day FLAME program were challenged to design a product that could retail at Whole Foods for $19.99 or less; thus the students had to reverse engineer glass art products and create a design that could wholesale no more than $8/piece, which could be made numerous times and were salable. They rose to the challenge, and you can now purchase their work in the Whole Foods in Downtown Newark. We know that by embracing youth entrepreneurship we are positioning our community to generate and retain wealth. Over the last 20 years, entrepreneurship has accounted for more than 75% of all new jobs in America. By supporting youth entrepreneurship programs, we’re not only improving our local economy, we are strengthening America’s economy and offering opportunities for youth to build wealth, and envision a new future.
What do glassblowing and dance have to do with each other? How do you connect fractions with Warhol? At GlassRoots, the answer is arts integration. Every teaching artist is committed to weaving the arts and standard curricula together to create a richer and more lasting learning experience for everyone who visits.
GlassRoots classes for youth in 5th through 12th grades are grounded in STEAM (STEM + Art) and enhance classroom work with real life experience. Our programs are offered at our studios and, with limitations, at schools off site. When students visit GlassRoots they have the opportunity to visit one, two or three art studios, known as the Flame Shop, the Flat Shop or the Hot Shop. All glass art projects include lessons on basic color and design theory, and introduction to and practice with glass tools.
No material inspires more creativity than glass! Scientists and artists alike have revered glass for the way it handles light and color, changes shape and take on new forms, while maintaining stability and strength. Artists, architects, engineers, and designers are turning to glass for its stunning characteristics. Glass is a natural material for joining art and STEM education in both practical and creative ways. Students enhance math skills by making sense of problems and persevering in solving them, reasoning abstractly and quantitatively, constructing viable arguments, modeling with mathematics, using appropriate tools strategically, attending to precision, looking for and making use of structure, looking for and expressing regularity in repeated reasoning.
Glass can demonstrate and help students understand core concepts and principles of science and use measurement and observation tools to assist in categorizing, representing, and interpreting the natural and designed world. GlassRoots’ scientific vocabulary and terminology include gravity, viscosity, temperature, gas/heat, chemicals, mandrel, torch, vermiculite among many others.
For Earth Science educators, in collaboration with Rutgers – Newark’s Earth Science Department, GlassRoots offers the Glass Volcano Experience, a hands-on STEAM-based workshop that uses molten glass to teach 6-12th grade students about the science and behavior of volcanoes. The Glass Volcano Experience is a two-hour workshop which includes four interactive components:
We're always checking to make sure our programs are having the impact we intend -- on some days the evidence jumps out at us. One of our Business and Entrepreneurship students opened up to Jason recently about the many obstacles that she has gone through in the last few years; suffice it to say she has had a tough time. Over the last few months, we watched her really fall in love with hot glass; it has totally consumed her life – giving her a focus and pushing out those bad experiences. She watches videos in her spare time and doodles glass designs on paper. After some contemplation about her experience at GlassRoots, she decided to visit a university in upstate New York known for its glass art program..
Here’s the news: She has been accepted into their art program, and now plans to continue studying glass art. This summer she will be also taking advantage of a scholarship offered by our wonderful partners at Urban Glass to learn the techniques of neon through the talented artist, Leo Tecosky. Some days just make ours smiles bigger.
Did you know that young workers, ages 16 to 24, have unemployment rates well over twice the national average—at 15 percent!
Tariq was a talented but underemployed young adult on the verge of homelessness. He didn’t know if he could ‘afford’ to participate in GlassRoots’ Scientific Glassblowing Program – his job at Dunkin Donuts kept him fed.
Stories like this one are all too common here at GlassRoots - young people with talent who can’t see beyond their present to a more promising future, one that would allow them to earn a living wage and end their daily worries.
We designed our post high-school college and career programs to be high impact and demonstrate a great payoff for young adults, ages 18-24, like Tariq. Glass art programs like this one – high touch and intensive -- are expensive. In fact, we need to raise $60,000 by June 30 to fund our operating and program budgets.
Tariq made his vision for a different future a reality. By completing our concentrated 12-week program, which provided hands-on scientific and artistic glassblowing, classes in financial literacy and artisan-oriented entrepreneurship, an on-the-job internship, and a network of support; Tariq was able to begin a new job, with solid pay and benefits.
Your donation will change the story for many youth and young adults from Newark and other NJ communities, just like it did for Tariq.
Here’s how your dollars will make an impact here:
With our gratitude,
Barbara Heisler, Executive Director
PS. Together, we can change the outcomes. We need to fully fund our programs and operations by 6/30. Please send your gift today.