How we do what we do

Seen + Heard

Our kids often tell us they feel there's something missing in their lives, meaningful relationships where they feel nurtured and valued. The home lives of many of our youth are unpredictable. This year 96% of our kids said they formed trusting relationships with RAW staff.

RAW provides a safe space, both emotionally and artistically, for kids to reveal “what is really going on in their lives.”

RAW creates endless opportunities for them to build meaningful relationships with their peers and RAW staff. Kids begin to see and hear each other, realizing they have more similarities than differences. Many of our youth rely on these trusted relationships to help navigate the complexities of their lives.

RAW was the eye of my storm in my day or week. There is more comfort here than in my own mind. I have told secrets kept in my throat for over a decade and a half. I know how it is to be an outsider, but here I’m on the inside. I am accepted. I have never loved this hard. I never knew I could love this hard. I never knew I would want to love this hard.
— Joely
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Art + Therapy


Youth in Lynn experience poverty and crime rates that are among the highest in Massachusetts. A significant portion (84%) of our teens have experienced some kind of childhood trauma. 

RAW kids come to understand that art can be a powerful way to tell their story. Creating art at RAW can be the first step in talking about their past and current traumas, daily struggles or profound sense of isolation. Here is a beautiful example of a piece done by a RAW artist.

 In RAW's 2013 exhibit, "In a Word," our young artists 

unearthed words not commonly used and created new words that described issues, situations, and qualities that out current words do not capture. RAW's high school portfolio development group, CORE, answered the question, "What three-letter word represents what you value in your life?" CORE artists were challenged through observational drawing to depict their own hands in sign language. While capturing the gestures that spelled out their three-letter word, they also created a composition and a poem to further describe how the word related to them.

Before coming to RAW I was going through a lot. I struggled with my depression. I was confused on who I wanted to be and where I stood. Then I joined RAW and realized I wasn’t alone and came out of my shell. I’m slowly figuring out who I am and it’s all thanks to my RAW family. Art is my biggest coping skill. It lets me express myself and how I’m feeling. I know when I come to RAW I’m not alone and I have amazing people with colorful personalities all around me.
— Jasmine
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HOM (n.) a sacred place

The organized chaos of an art room. A shared meal. A meditative huummmm. Laughter. Silence. The Perfect cup of Earl Grey tea. Delicious suppers wafting out from under front doors. Laundry detergent. The pages of a book. Waking up really early to go for a walk or choosing to sleep in. Discovering a new icecream flavour. Receiving a letter in the mail. Mixing the perfect colour of paint. I am 12,379.4 kilometres away from home, a sacred place to me yet I find myself discovering new, sacred spaces every day. I am HOM because I stepped through the doors of RAW and was welcomed into a warm world of colour and incredible people. I am HOM because I have a year away from schools and classrooms but am learning every day. I am HOM because I have a year of adventure, discovery, bus rides, train rides, books, art and sacred spaces.

– Danielle



Connect + Succeed


Our Art Therapists, see how early experiences with prolonged stress, and related trauma, can undermine children's ability to learn, form relationships and function well in a classroom. Each of these affects their chances for long-term success. 

At RAW, they learn how to ask for help and strengthen their resilience to keep going. Kids understand and value their individuality, seeing themselves as works in progress. Kids know they are a vital part of an inclusive community where they can be vulnerable, finding ways to heal and to thrive. 

In 1997, RAW's art therapy staff began working after hours to help teens navigate the complexities of the college process. In a community where the dropout rates were almost double the state average, many of our teens did not see the possibility of a higher education. RAW believed it could change that reality. Twenty years later, we have built a thriving college access and career exploration program - PROJECT LAUNCH.

RAW's class of 2017! These three all earned Posse Scholarships through the help of Project Launch and have full, four-year scholarships to Denison University, Centre College and Denison University (respectively).

RAW's class of 2017! These three all earned Posse Scholarships through the help of Project Launch and have full, four-year scholarships to Denison University, Centre College and Denison University (respectively).