by Susan Mernit, Executive Director of The Crucible 

We all know what a special place The Crucible is, with our amazing programs in metal and glass – in foundry, welding, glass blowing, blacksmithing, and more – and our equally high-quality programs in kinetics, woodworking, leather, ceramics – and so much more. It wasn’t until I joined The Crucible as their Executive Director at the end of July 2018 that I realized just how much The Crucible supports creative exploration and discovery by local youth ages 8-18.

More than 5,500 young people participated in hands-on STEAM learning and original art-making at our space in West Oakland this past year. More than half of those young folks were Oakland residents who participate at a free or reduced cost in our community events and after-school, weekend, and summer programs. We’ve been doing this work for more than thirteen years, and have had the privilege of seeing young people who start in elementary or middle school become teenage Fuego Leaders, evolve into Crucible teaching assistants, then professional instructors.

In a time when expressing creativity as an act of resistance and learning STEAM skills are both critical to thrive, The Crucible’s youth programs are an ever more essential part of our vision and mission. Our entire staff is committed to the arts-focused STEM/STEAM learning system we have developed and perfected over the past eight years. And we are so proud of the pathways that allow young students to engage with The Crucible through the Bike Program, field trips, workshops, and move into classes of increasing difficulty, culminating in paid internships for our most engaged and advanced students.

Read on to learn more about how The Crucible and our school partners have leveraged the significant impact that arts education and positive role models have on young people through the industrial arts. This is the future, and we want it to shine so bright for our youth.

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