RAW is located in Lynn, a city with a bustling population of 87,000. Despite Lynn’s ocean-front location just nine miles north of Boston, the city struggles economically compared to more affluent neighboring towns. Lynn’s crime, poverty, teen birth and high school dropout rates are more than twice the state average.
Lynn is fortunate to have a diverse cultural landscape. Along with this richness however, come challenges. There are kids who are children of immigrants and may be the only English speakers in their home. Others have never considered that there is a world outside of Lynn. While 85% of our youth come from Lynn, we also serve kids from the neighboring towns of Salem, Marblehead, Nahant and Swampscott, bringing together young people whose paths would typically not cross.
Recognizing the positive impact that RAW has on the lives of the kids we serve, RAW’s programs have evolved beyond the making of art and film. We have created platforms for success by providing mentoring for college access and SAT prep, financial aid access, youth employment, and opportunities to develop life skills like public speaking and personal financial responsibility. RAW serves as a place that increases access to possibilities for the young artists that walk through our doors.
RAW broadens the fabric of our community through countless partnerships. We have formed strong connections to Lesley University, North Shore Community College, and Salem State University. We connect kids to a variety of organizations in areas such as job availability and training (JobCorps, MyTurn) and health (the Lynn Community Health Center). While our anchor is in Lynn, we have reached out to organizations in surrounding communities such as the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem. PEM has partnered with RAW to provide programs and internship opportunities to our kids, as well as being the site for Real 2 Reel’s annual film screening.
RAW has engaged the Lynn community in myriad ways. Last year, our annual Big Thanks dinner welcomed over 300 kids and their families into RAW Space. We have invited the community into RAW through visiting artists and our adults-only Artist for a Day workshop. RAW artists went into the community, interviewed and drew portraits of 580 Lynn residents in a project called Ignite, Create, Connect. These portraits now form a 200-foot long mural under the Lynn Central Square MBTA. RAW also offers film screenings, gallery exhibits and openings, career nights, and neighborhood parties. With our central location, we view RAW Space as the heart of downtown Lynn and a destination for not just our kids, but for the community as a whole.