Paint Club is an afterschool youth development program that uses research-driven strategies to encourage school connectedness, build resiliency, self-esteem, and increase civic-engagement in at-risk students while teaching commercial painting and transferable work habits bringing color, energy, and life into NYC public schools thereby creating a sense of safety.

In Paint Club, students spend Tuesday through Friday afternoons and all day Saturday learning the basics of commercial painting while they paint warm, inviting colors in public areas of their school.  In the process, students learn creative problem solving, leadership skills, and how to work as a team – important skills for success in school, career, and life.

Research has shown a strong relationship between school connectedness and educational outcomes, including school attendance; staying in school longer; and higher grades and classroom test scores. Paint Club fosters a caring school community and a shared sense of pride and ownership. It brings cross-age students, adult volunteers, teachers, and parents together on a school-wide service initiative that has a lasting impact on the community.

Milestones

  • 9 middle and high schools per year are selected on the basis of low attendance rates, low graduation rates (for high school), and a high percentage of students in poverty, and a physical environment that is drab and institutional looking and conveys a message of neglect and disrespect.
  • Paint Club recruits up to 100 students to participate with an emphasis on the most at-risk students as identified by the teachers and the administration.
  • 10-12 weeks, 5 days per week (including all-day Saturdays) of curriculum that give Paint Club students opportunities to learn: project management, engaging in high-level conversations with adults from diverse backgrounds, leadership skills, community service, color/visual design basics, commercial painting techniques, creative problem solving, self advocacy, team-work.
  • 14,000 square feet of public space is painted in each school, each semester.
  • 50 delicious, healthy, colorful snacks and meals served to Paint Club students each semester.
  • 100% of students and teachers vote on the colors for their school giving each a voice and empowering them to take ownership and developing a sense of pride in their newly transformed space.
  • 62% of students attend Paint Club multiple times throughout the semester.
  • An average of 20 teachers and parents paint alongside the students each semester creating a culture of collaboration and community engagement.
  • 20 students from Paint Club are inducted into the paid apprenticeship program each semester resulting in a 4-6 year involvement, empowering them to plan and prepare for college and career.
  • An average of 40 struggling middle and high schools are on the waiting list to be a Publicolor school at any given time (illustrating that the need/demand far outweighs Publicolor’s current capacity).
  • Average of 120 volunteers per school, (including corporate groups in the fields of finance, PR, design, architecture, law and college alumni groups) per semester painting alongside Paint Club students, informally mentoring them about college and career.

The Student Experience

Did you know that publicolor students mix all of the paint we use? Janovic generously allows our students, under our staff supervision, to use their paint mixing facility in long island city, 4 times a year. This is what one of our students had to say about the experience:

Overall, paint mixing was a great experience. It was fascinating to understand and be a part of the process that gives birth to the bright colors that we use at Publicolor. Getting to the site was not too much of a struggle coming from Brooklyn. Once out of the train, locating the Janovic Center in Queens and finding the appropriate entrance was a bit of a challenge, but I found it nonetheless with the help of the train app on my phone. The Janovic Center employees that I communicated with during my time at the Center were extremely friendly and tremendously helpful. They were very willing to answer questions that we had and assist us in finding tools that we needed. 

The Publicolor staff member who was in charge of paint mixing was Dustin, and he was an expert at paint mixing. The instructions that he gave us were very straight forward and soon we had formed a production line, each of us situated at a different spot with a different job. Together, the four of us effectively labeled, mixed, shook, and stored the gallons upon gallons of paint in a timely manner. We worked smoothly and quickly together, but were careful not to spill or make mistakes, as such mistakes could be costly or lead to issues with the colors being used at sites. Although it was a strenuous, tiring job being in the center, I enjoyed my time paint mixing. I learned how much attention and care goes into making the paint that we use at sites. I felt honored knowing that I had contributed to the work that goes into sites in a way that is often overlooked. Paint mixing is crucial to any paint job, and it was a great experience.