CATC ceramics instructor Jamie Rahe helps a student with her work.

By: Shawn Daniell

Some students learn better visually. There are many students who are at risk of not graduating from high school and art can serve as a method to bridge that gap. As an artist and a current student, I see the value of using art as an educational tool.  I think Lorin Hollander, a world renowned pianist, said it best, “Art isn’t simply important education; it is education. Art is the gymnasium of the mind, body, and spirit. It is the place where we can totally address every element of ourselves; it doesn’t matter what the content is.”

The Cincinnati Arts and Technology Center, a non-profit agency founded in 2003 and located in Cincinnati, Ohio, has taken this idea to heart, working with at-risk urban teens in the Cincinnati Public school system, with graduation as the end goal. According to Clara Martin, the chief executive officer at CATC, their primary focus is on “those students who need elective or fine arts credits in order to graduate.” Participants are made up of juniors, seniors and older underclassmen.

During the CATC’s seven years of service they have been able to help approximately 2,600 at-risk students, with the number of student participants reaching over 400 a year. Over the last five years the CATC has shown an overwhelming success with 91 % of participants earning the necessary credits for graduation or moving onto the next grade level and 94% of CATC seniors successfully graduating.

All programs are at no cost to students. Funding and support for programs at the CATC come from the Cincinnati Public School system, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, the United Way and other foundations, corporations and individual contributions.

Five studio courses are offered including: digital multimedia, drawing and painting, sculpture, ceramics and stained glass. Each studio is set up as a “guild” style setting where students work with professional artists, master craftsmen and a national board certified art educator.

Not only do students get to learn new artistic skills, they are also taught important life skills that they can use in their future professional and personal relationships. The programming is a dynamic combination of art + academics+ life skills that serves to create productive citizens.

The CATC is very excited to be offering a new themed class for students this school year entitled Politics and Culture, centered on the upcoming presidential election.

Bridging the Gap, a workforce development program offered at the CATC, focuses on helping students transition from graduation into meaningful careers. The program includes life skills training, job-readiness workshops, training in a specified industry, state certification, an on-the-job mentor, testing, hiring screens, job interviews, and more. Students are also eligible for tuition assistance for higher education through employers. This year marks the third annual offering of Bridging the Gap programming.

Not only does this program give students the opportunity to find an entrance into a fulfilling career path, it also addresses the issue of employment shortages in the health and manufacturing sectors.

“We stress to the kids that this is not a job, it’s a career opportunity. So we spend a great deal of time preparing them and talking with them,” Martin said.

Martin went on to say, “What we know about urban kids is that sometimes they don’t have those opportunities to plan long term or the exposures to be able to make decisions about what they want to do when they grow up. So we begin to have those discussions with them.”

Training and workforce counseling is one thing, but will these students be able to find careers with the skills they have accrued through the Bridging the Gap program? Yes they will, Bridging the Gap has arrangements with employers for career placement. And in these hard economic times, that’s a work of art in itself.

If you are interested in sponsoring a child, volunteering, donating, or would like more information about CATC programs, you can visit or call CATC at (513) 562-5500 for more details.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *