With only ten children in a Harlem community center, Adarsh Alphons founded ProjectArt in 2011. Piloting a myriad of ideas on how to scale the organization’s mission, the partnership with public libraries was realized efficacious to achieve his moon-shot dream: To provide free arts education to all underserved youth in the US who do not have access. Expelled from school in India when he was seven years old for drawing in every class, he was told often that he would never amount to anything. However, access to art saved his life as a child. By the time Mr. Alphons was fifteen, his parents put him in a different school where an art teacher provided him mentorship. Shortly after, he was exhibiting his work to large audiences, and painting portraits for Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and the Pope.
Today, he extends this passion to ProjectArt, which provides youth a safe space to create, enabling them to develop holistic, pro-socialization skills as they prepare to enter an ambiguous society. As a CNN Hero (2015), arts education reformer, and community scholar, Mr. Alphons has championed ProjectArt to provide youths and artists vast access to the arts using the organization’s national benefit zone strategy. At highly effective, grass-root city levels, ProjectArt reforms the ways in which society invests in arts education. The travail to fill the nation’s current void, where over 4 million elementary youth do not receive access to arts education in the U.S., inspires our mission as more imperative than ever.