A Note from Ruth

Yesterday I heard an amazing report on npr about 3 students from university heights high school (rough area in the bronx) who had gone w their class to visit fieldston. They were struck by how entitled the fieldston kids seemed, how trusting they were of one another leaving bookbags around with computers in them, how sure they were of success, etc. Of the 3 students, 2 got accepted to college, the third was turned down by a college prep program, and turned down by colleges. She had wanted to get a BA and a masters. All her rejections destroyed her spirit. She ended up being a check-out clerk in a supermarket in an upscale neighborhood, confirming her belief after seeing fieldston that poor minority kids will end up serving white privileged kids. She attends college sporadically, and is ashamed of what she does to earn a living. Of the other 2, the boy dropped out early- he didn't have the funds to buy books and was ashamed to tell anyone. He fulfilled his mother's prediction that he'd be a janitor. The third graduated college and became a teacher, thus entering the middle class.

I heard all this and felt huge pride in publicolor. We don't destroy students' self-image by turning them down. In fact we deliberately embed small daily successes in each of our programs to build their self-confidence. We deliberately ask them to apply to summer design studio so they'll feel good about being accepted (everyone's accepted but they don't know this!) We also deliberately hold sds on pratt's campus so our students feel like they belong in college. We hold weekly career exposure workshops so our kids get a broader sense of what's out there, and between this and saturdays when we pair our students with corporate volunteers who talk about their jobs and the education needed to succeed, our students begin to feel comfortable about the bigger world, and develop a sense that they deserve to be part of its success. If they're struggling academically we pair them with a weekly tutor. We also organize 2 multi-day multi-campus college tours a year so our students know what to expect and can ask tons of questions while there. And none of our kids will drop out of college because they can't afford books. We give each a gap scholarship to fill the gap between the financial aid we help them access and the real cost of college. This money can be used also for books. And our staff is in regular contact with each college student so any problems are dealt with early. We even give them a going-away gift that includes new bedding and towels so they enter their dorm room not appearing poor or inferior (raggedy, in their language). And to ensure they stay in school to graduate, we pair each freshman w a caring mentor who pushes back at pressure to drop out and go to work. Publicolor covers, in our program continuum, what it takes multiple organizations to cover!

And our results attest to our effectiveness.

  • Last year the national public high school graduation rate for economically disadvantaged students was 68%. For publicolor it was 97%.
  • The national percentage of economically disadvantaged students who enrolled in college-51%. For publicolor- 94%
  • Up to 40% of economically disadvantaged students who have been accepted to college do not go. For publicolor, the number who reconsider and don't go (it's called "summer melt") is zero.
  • National persistence rate for economically disadvantaged students is 51%. For publicolor it's 94%.
  • Nationally only 60% of 9th graders matriculate on time to 10th grade. At publicolor, it's 100%.
  • Nationally only 55% of students increase their SAT scores and 35% experience score drops when retaking SATs. At publicolor 100% improved their scores.
  • And finally, nationally, students who increased their combined scores did so by 45 points. Publicolor's students increased their combined scores by 92 points!
  • I so hope you'll continue to help, and do let me know how you think we can better share this message, and/or even improve it. And by all means feel free to send this to others or let me know who to send it to. We plan to double all of our programs in the next 5 years, and very much need to increase our network of supporters.

Hoping to see you on april 9 at ss+r!!

Affectionately, Ruth

Sol Lewitt finished!

We've finished our Sol Lewitt murals at High School of Fashion Industries, and are so pleased with how it turned out! Take a look below.

Publicolor on ABC!

And... The New Yorker Magazine wanted to chat with us about our trip to the White House to receive the National Arts+Humanities Youth Program Award. Click here for the full story.

Publicolor was honored at the White House!

First Lady Michelle Obama presents Publicolor Founder+President Ruth Lande Shuman and Publicolor student Elisha Almonte with the prestigious National Arts+Humanities Youth Program Award at The White House on November 10, 2014.

The award recognizes the country’s best creative youth development programs for using engagement in the arts and the humanities to increase academic achievement, graduation rates, and college enrollment. The awardees—chosen from a pool of more than 350 nominations and 50 finalists—are also recognized for improving literacy and language abilities, communication and performance skills, and cultural awareness.

“You teach kids more than just skills in the arts and humanities – you light a fire in them; you help them grow emotionally and socially,” said Mrs. Obama at the award ceremony. “And as all of you know, that has an impact on our kids not just their success in the arts and in the humanities but on their success in school and in life.”

"There are so many people who made this award possible. I just wish they all could have been there with Elisha and me at the white house," said Ruth Lande Shuman following the award ceremony.

Watch Publicolor receive the award here