The Newark City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday, January 9, to provide funding to help complete the build-out of GlassRoots’ new space. Since its doors opened in Newark in 2001, the nonprofit has served 25,000+ people through its STEAM based, glass-art and entrepreneurial educational programs, classes and workshops designed for youth, young adults and adults, with at least 60% of participants Newark residents.
“GlassRoots is a community-based nonprofit organization working to ignite and build the creative and economic vitality of greater Newark, with a focus on underserved youth and young adults, through the transformative power of the glass art experience,” said GlassRoots CEO Barbara Heisler. “At the very heart of the organization’s work is the focus on engaging youth from our Newark community. We use glass art as a vehicle to promote the flame within them to create, to innovate, to reach and exceed their potential and to guide them towards educational and career opportunities that they may have not had access to otherwise. We are grateful that the Mayor and the Council see the immense value we bring to our city. We look forward to increasing our impact in our new space later this year.”
GlassRoots has provided programming to students in 41 of the 59 Newark Public schools in grades 5 through 12 (GlassRoots serves students 10 years and older) through its after-school youth entrepreneurial program, long-term in-school art residencies, summer youth leadership programs, summer extended learning workshops, craft school fellowships, and through STEAM-based educational field trips and workshops. Additionally, GlassRoots enjoys longstanding partnerships with several charter and private schools and community organizations, such as Philips Academy and the City’s Recreation Department. With a policy of ensuring that every Newark student is able to benefit from its programs, GlassRoots actively engages in both fundraising and entrepreneurial activities to subsidize its programs for secondary school students.
The $500,000 grant from the City of Newark will help fund the organization’s expansion later this year in the Newark Arts Commons, in the old St. Michael’s Hospital building, currently undergoing renovation in Newark’s Central Ward.
“We appreciate the City of Newark’s support for the work of GlassRoots. Our expansion as the arts anchor of the Newark Arts Commons will allow us to greatly increase the number of students and young adults we serve through school field trips, youth leadership and entrepreneurial programs, and college and career readiness programs. We are especially excited to announce the addition of a dedicated Scientific Glassblowing Workshop where we will offer a workforce development program that prepares young people for work in New Jersey’s scientific glass industry,”stated GlassRoots’ Board President, Roger C. Tucker III. “Further, we envision it becoming a community hub for education, creativity, innovation and partnerships with Newark’s citizens and institutions such as The Newark Art Museum, Rutgers University and NJIT.”
The Newark Arts Commons is a mixed-use residential and commercial property currently under development in the old St. Michael’s Hospital building, a long-vacant building constructed in 1867, at the intersection of Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive and Central Avenue in Newark’s Central Ward. As the building’s arts anchor, GlassRoots will occupy over 18,000 square feet on the building’s lower levels. Its facility will include expanded studios for glassblowing, flameworking and glass fusing, as well as an artist WorkerSpace which will provide access and technical support to artist entrepreneurs, allowing them to earn income from the sale of their work. GlassRoots’ new headquarters will also include public spaces such as a café, gallery and conference center. Expanded classroom and studio space will allow for multiple school groups to visit at the same time, which is not possible in their current home at 10 Bleeker St. Other partners in the project include the City of Newark, New Jersey Community Capital, Hanini Group and Crawford Street Partners.
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The mission of GlassRoots is to ignite and build the creative and economic vitality of greater Newark, with a focus on under-served youth and young adults, through the transformative power of the glass art experience.