Homeless Youth Initiative Receives Grant


Outside The Frame was recently awarded $7,000 as part of the Arts Building Communities grant from the Oregon Arts Commission

Outside the Frame alumni and current participants – youth who have experienced homelessness – are learning how to share their stories and heal trauma. Outside the Frame youth have something to belong to. They have a place to go a few times a week that removes them from their daily concerns to create art and community. They are being listened to and taken seriously by community members, artists, activists, government officials and politicians. By sharing their firsthand experiences, they help the policy makers learn the truth about living without stable housing and help to inform and create the programs that will eventually solve homelessness. Outside the Frame youth are incredible and unstoppable.  

Recently, the Outside the Frame youth filmmakers participated in the independents for Progressive Action Progressive Film Series at the Lake Theater in Lake Oswego. They shared films they made and then participated in a panel discussion with elected officials from the region about homelessness and individual and governmental actions that can be taken, in the short and long term.  

Outside the Frame is currently in the midst of another film intensive at the Alliance at Benson, and alternative high school that is part of the Portland Public Schools District. Staff and peer mentors, graduates of the program,  are teaching filmmaking to the students in a classroom led by Hip Hop Artist in Residence Mic Crenshaw. They have decided to produce music videos for original songs written by students.   

In 2019, over 100 young people gathered in Outside the Frame’s studio to train with film industry professionals and tell their stories on screen. Now homeless youth know they have a place they can go to find emotional support, food, and all the equipment and resources they need to change their lives – and our community – with their films. In the process, youth gain employable skills they now use for paid work on contract projects with organizations ranging from Metro Regional Government to the Portland Art Museum. More importantly, the studio at Union Station is a home base – often their only safe space – for many of the homeless youth.   

With the support of the Art Builds Communities grant, they’ve added two more program alums to the paid “Peer Mentor” role to support the Program Staff as they increase the weekly programming to two days a week. The plans are to start a monthly alumni group meeting to continue to support the former participants; one alumni has started his own non-profit, Ascending Flow, housed at Luke Dorf.  

Other former Outside The Frame participants have caught the filmmaking bug and are working in the industry. Another works at Home Plate Youth Services, a youth social services organization in Beaverton, and many other “regular” jobs around the region that were at one point so out of reach as to seem impossible.  

Upcoming plans include the screening of a film made for the City of Portland for the March 26th celebration of Transgender Day of Visibility, beginning a monthly alumni group, adding an intensive workshop that focuses on advanced mentoring, a collaboration with Oregon Symphony, and a youth film festival curated by Outside the Frame. 

About Author

Carrie Kikel is the Communications Manager for Oregon’s Arts Department, which includes the Oregon Arts Commission and the Oregon Cultural Trust. The Oregon Arts Commission provides statewide grant funding to artists, arts organizations and arts programs. The Cultural Trust raises public and private awareness and investment in arts, heritage, history, humanities and preservation.

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