Program Description 

Since YAA’s founding in 2013, thousands of young people from across Michigan have engaged in  healing-centered, high quality arts programming. These opportunities are made possible by  master-level, experienced teaching artists. YAA intensively trains and supports teaching artists to  build curriculums in their areas of artistic focus based on a programming model that centers strengths-based, healing centered and trauma-informed practices, and research in the landscape of mental health and  developmental needs of adolescents. YAA prioritizes youth impacted by the justice system who currently reside in carceral detention and treatment settings as well as community settings where youth  have less access to high quality arts experiences and resources. 

Achieving the mission of Youth Arts Alliance (YAA) requires collaborative effort and strong  partnerships with many community artists, associations, organizations and educational  institutions dedicated to the success of youth in the community through creative arts experiences.  We celebrate partnerships with the missions and well-established, vetted creative methodologies  of the PONGO Teen Writing Project based in Seattle, The Beat Within based in San Francisco, the Prison Creative Arts Project at the University of Michigan, Storycatchers Theatre based in Chicago,  Radiant City Arts based in Toledo, and Performing Statistics in Richmond.  

The YAA creative arts framework expands upon J. David Hawkins and Richard F. Catalano’s Social  Development Strategy: youth need opportunities to make meaningful contributions; youth need  the skills to contribute effectively; youth need recognition for their contributions to each  workshop. YAA workshops offer new opportunities for self-reflection, collaboration, skill  development, expressive release and confidence-building through artistic practice. 

In nearly a decade of programming, youth have affirmed what we organizationally know: when offered supportive and skilled instruction, compassionate guidance and the right tools for creative  practices, youth express significant impact and enthusiasm for new and expansive artistic experiences. Youth artists who participate in YAA workshops recognize the power these experiences have to offer healing. 

YAA workshop curriculums hold dual priorities of expressed youth interest and exposure to new  genres and mediums. Historically, YAA has offered workshops in creative writing, movement,  theater, fiber art, music, mosaic, photography, illustration, comics, zines, print-making,  horticulture, mural-making, expressive arts and more! 

Teaching Artist Expectations 

YAA teaching artists are expected to plan an 8 session curriculum based in artistic mediums in  which they hold expertise. They will consult with the YAA Managing Director to  determine the best approach for workshop structure, depending on if they will be placed with a group of youth in a 

detention unit, a treatment unit, or a community space. Prior to starting their first workshop cycle,  the teaching artist must attend a YAA teaching artist training. The teaching artist will follow the  YAA model of incorporating healing centered best practices in their workshops.  YAA will support the teaching  artist through Zoom and phone meetings, occasional in person support at the site, and if resources allow,  providing a trained volunteer or YAA staff member to assist them. YAA will also support during the last workshop session of a cycle, traditionally treated as a celebration, with a culminating reading, performance, or “gallery walk”.

Teaching artists are compensated at $1,500 per workshop cycle. Additional opportunities are available for single session workshops, as well.

Teaching artists are considered independent contractors and are not deemed to be employees of Youth Arts Alliance.

Youth Arts Alliance Teaching Artist Application: How to Apply  

All application materials must be sent in PDF format to Lucy Cahill at

Applicants will submit the following in one single document, titled as “Your Name_YAA Teaching Artist Application” : 

  • Resume/C.V. and Contact information for two professional references
  • Examples of past artistic work – hyperlinks to websites/music/videos encouraged.  
  • Describe what offering healing centered facilitation to youth means to you
  • A detailed workshop description (paragraph) focused on a medium of your choice. Should include a description of the ideal outcome of the workshop.
  • List of what arts mediums you are skilled in and confident at teaching. 
  • Indicate availability for workshops on weekdays (afternoon or evening), and during  which cycle(s): February-May; June-August; September-November. 
  • Indicate what city you live in, and what counties you are able to drive to for a workshop including: Washtenaw, Jackson, Wayne, Monroe, and Muskegon counties. Please note: applicants must have a reliable form of transportation to and from workshops.