Artists for Humanity

Creative Jobs for Creative Teens

As an increasing number of art and design communities engage in creating a more diverse and inclusive cultural landscape, one Boston non-profit organization has been a pioneer of that effort. Artists for Humanity (AFH) has been working to surmount social, economic, and racial divisions by empowering under-served teens through the creative arts.

Founded by Susan Rodgerson over 28 years ago, AFH is a response to the lack of art exposure and education available to students in Boston’s public schools. Their program is based on a unique approach where inner-city teens channel their creative talents to serve the business community and receive compensation for their efforts. When teens join AFH, they acquire training in creative fields, such as graphic design, 3D design, and painting from mentors and industry design professionals, many of whom are alumni of the program. Next, teens go on to work directly with their mentors, through a paid apprenticeship model, to create innovative projects and installations commissioned by AFH’s local Boston clients. Teens are involved in all phases of planning and executing each project and are given the opportunity to share their vision and creativity directly with business professionals. Their contributions offer valuable, fresh, new ideas and opinions that lead to unique finished projects which help business professionals differentiate their brand. 

By providing hundreds of under-resourced teens with training and employment, AFH offers a fundamental solution to the economic disenfranchisement many teens are facing. Working at AFH increases a teen’s future earning potential and employment opportunities. This not only enriches the teen’s life but the lives of their families and community. 

In addition to training in the creative arts, teens at AFH are offered one-on-one academic tutoring, guidance in developing post-secondary education plans, and preparation for entering the workforce. With a new integration of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education in design studios, the program provides teens with interdisciplinary learning furthering their knowledge and helping them to innovate in their future careers. Teens describe AFH as a community where they feel safe to express themselves and reach for their goals. 

AFH’s headquarters, called the EpiCenter, designed by architecture firm Behnisch Architekten, is located in Boston’s vibrant Fort Point neighborhood, but teens engage in projects all over greater Boston. With such a variety of work, there is a very good chance you have walked past or experienced a piece created by AFH teens.

The graphic design studio designed and installed this graphic stairwell wrap that connects Congress Street to World Trade Center Avenue in Boston’s Seaport neighborhood.  Commissioned by Gable Seaport, a residential community, it is the first public art installation on a stairwell in Boston. Executed by applying vinyl adhesive that was split into strips and attached to each stair riser, the graphic mural spans fifty-four 6-inch risers. Creative AFH artists transformed a nondescript flight of stairs into an uplifting journey for all who traverse them.

The Boston Planning and Development Agency along with local neighborhood partners commissioned AFH’s 3D design studio to design, fabricate, and install unique bike racks in strategic locations around the cities of Allston, Brighton, and The Fenway neighborhood. Serving not only the function of securing bicycles, the racks are also sculptural art and expression that celebrate and enhance their surrounding community. 

The mixed-media design studio collaborated with pharmaceutical company Vertex to custom design and build eighteen tables inspired by the company’s branding. These sustainably constructed tables feature surfaces made from recycled and reclaimed print materials set in an eco-friendly resin with a stainless steel base.

The painting studio was engaged by PangeaSeed Foundation, a global non-profit organization calling attention to climate change, to envision and realize a mural portraying endangered sea life inhabiting the Atlantic Ocean. AFH’s Hope and Resistance mural, located on the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway depicts endangered species floating above the Boston city skyline and is meant to inspire and motivate people to participate in preserving and defending our coastal environment. The mural joins fourteen other public murals created throughout Boston’s Eastie neighborhood as part of PangeaSeeds groundbreaking global public art program Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans.

Interested in hiring AFH artists for an upcoming project? Click here to learn more!

Consider supporting AFH! Each gift helps to make a difference in the lives of under-resourced teens in Boston. Make your gift today!

Unlike 2020, 2021 has flown by. There may have been less Zoom calls and some small in-person events, some of us working back in the office, some of us still working from home, or even a hybrid. Although 2021 brought its challenges, our community has stuck together and continued to bring relevant content and events to our members. We all have been resilient and have pivoted when needed or asked. I can not express my gratitude enough to our community for all that you do. I’d like to take a moment and reflect on some highlights from 2021:

TWELVE months of incredible programming
ELEVEN amazing members on the board of directors  
TEN professional development events with CEUs 

NINE Membership SPARK events, back by popular demand
EIGHT committees planning awesome events
SEVEN Chapter sponsorship Levels *2022 sponsorship is now live!  
SIX new brand colors and textures - be on the lookout for our official rebrand launching in January 2022!
FIVE communications platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, and LinkedIn
FOUR signature events per year - be on the look out for the 2022 dates to be announced soon  
THREE IIDA Headquarters Best Thing Ever awards 
TWO bills in the works - one has moved forward and our new Bill number is S2570
ONE new board position: Vice President of EDI, Robina Shepherd   
...and a partridge in a pear tree!

This year has made me realize that we are strong and not going anywhere! Our IIDA community has provided me with the experience to make me a better leader. I truly value being an active member of IIDA New England and hope others share this feeling too. The Board of Directors is here to support you and we welcome you to contact us with any ideas you might like to see incorporated into this upcoming year.

Wherever you may be at this moment, take some time to reflect on this past year, celebrate your wins, and learn from your losses. Cheers to 2022!


Be sure to check in with the IIDA New England calendar for upcoming events (both virtual and in-person) offered in our community. Here's a sneak peek at some upcoming events:

Also, be sure to keep an eye on our IIDA New England job postings, which are updated regularly!


Check out the list of IIDA New England Emerging Leaders Class of 2021!

Do you have an idea that you would like to share with the design community or see highlighted here in The Wire? Send your ideas to [email protected]

Stay tuned for another Sponsor Highlight next month!

Follow IIDA New England on social media and visit our website to keep up with the latest and greatest!