ArtWorks Celebrates 10 Years of Student Opportunity: Center for Arts-Inspired Learning’s student apprenticeship program uses the arts to prepare students for 21st-century success


On their first day of work as ArtWorks apprentices, new students enter a room filled with strangers, artists, and goals: learn to work with other students from across Northeast Ohio to create new art. On the last day they leave inspired to pursue bold ambitions.

ArtWorks employs high school students from diverse backgrounds in paid, arts-based apprenticeships that develop artistic expertise and cultivate core competences. By equipping students with skills that are vital to educational and professional success—ingenuity, critical thinking, creative problem-solving, responsibility, project planning and management, communication, collaboration, and leadership—the program prepares for success in the twenty-first century classroom and beyond.

Now in its tenth year, ArtWorks has grown in response to demand. Started by Marsha Dobrzynski and Deborah Ratner in 2005, the program began as a two-week pilot serving 50 teens under a tent in Shaker Square. It has expanded into a year-round program that engages a dozen partners in serving over 200 youth each year. Recent co-op offerings include dance, fashion design, recording arts, digital game design, photography, performance poetry, animation, and film.

Apprentices develop self-confidence through a variety of challenges, completing service-based projects, and hosting performances. Students participate in workshops with community partners focusing on financial literacy, resume writing, interviewing skills, and college admissions and financial aid processes. Presentations by guest speakers increase awareness of career opportunities and ways in which skills developed through arts education are valuable in a variety of professional settings. Apprentices leave the program with portfolios to use when applying for educational and employment opportunities—and ready to see a future of opportunity.

To apply for a fall or spring afterschool or summer apprenticeship ArtWorks, visit the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning’s website at

Center for Arts Inspired Learning

13110 Shaker Square, C203

Cleveland, Ohio 44120