It’s 4pm, and at an affordable housing complex in South Los Angeles, an art room is filling up.
It’s not just kids coming home from school, though there are plenty. Residents of all ages are coming in for a loosely structured art class that happens bimonthly in this building, thanks to EngAGE.
EngAGE provides arts and lifelong learning opportunities to affordable housing communities. At this particular building, that includes this art class, gardening, tutoring and even a monthly birthday party—all free, and open to all residents.
Almost 20 years ago, EngAGE began providing arts programming for senior communities. But in the past several years, they’ve helped create several intergenerational communities too. The newest building, ACE/121 Glendale Arts Colony opened last year and is home to residents of all ages that take advantage of the art, music and dance studios within the facility.
“We do these programs with both seniors and kids to create a place where inspiration and education can happen across generations,” says Tim Carpenter, CEO and Founder of EngAGE.
Today, EngAGE provides programming to 31 housing communities in California alone. The organization also has a presence in Oregon and Minnesota, and is continuing to expand.
Sandra Vargas, Regional Programs Director at EngAGE, has seen firsthand the impact these programs have on the residents. “It’s really rewarding when we see the relationships grow,” she says. “They’re more than just neighbors.”
Because participants are all residents, class regulars get to know each other quickly—and notice when they’re absent. “If an adult who usually comes to class isn’t there, they’ll go knock on her door,” says Vargas. “The neighbors look after each other.”
The programs at the South LA housing complex have proven so popular, residents are asking for more. When that happens, Vargas knows what to do.
“Sometimes residents will knock on my office door and ask ‘are there any programs today?’” she says. “I’ll say ‘no, but we can create one!’ and I’ll open up the activity center.”
Learn more about EngAGE here.Back to Eisner Journal Directory