Last fall, students from GAP School were presented with a unique learning opportunity. Foci Minnesota Center for Glass Arts was offering classes to students as part of Project for Pride in Living's LEAP (Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential) program. These classes would let students experience glass art techniques such as flame throwing, among others.
Five students attended the first class in September to learn about flame and glassblowing which included creating their own marble and straw. Soon after, there was another opportunity from Foci for youth to sign up for a series of workshops at their studio. Two GAP School students applied and were selected to participate, Izaiah Getahun and Moncies Franco.
The students attended classes at the studio once a week for a few months. Before the classes ended, Foci invited both students to take part in additional set of classes. The directors and mentors at the school were so impressed with the students that they began searching for funding so their participation could continue. Izaiah’s and Moncies’ hard work and enthusiasm in particular really stood out to the leaders at Foci.
Towards the end of the school year, Foci encouraged both students to apply to Expanding Horizons, a hands-on glass arts program hosted by the Corning Museum of Glass in New York over the summer. To apply, a significant amount of class hours would need to be completed. The program was a master level class and would give the opportunity to be mentored by master level glass artists and learn more about how glass museums operate around the world.
Grants were secured so that the students could take classes to provide them with the required experience should they be chosen for the program. Moncies continued classes into the spring and was accepted into the program.
After a total of 21 classes, Moncies and his mentor from Foci made their way to New York. The two spent time exploring the museum, learning from experts in the field, as well as meeting other aspiring artists and glass blowers. Moncies performed a demo in front of a live audience that was also broadcast live onto screens throughout the museum for visitors to watch.
Moncies says he learned a great deal about glass blowing and also about being in the artist field. He dreams of creating his own brand and selling his art one day. These opportunities gave him a glimpse into how to advance his artistry and how to sell his art. He says that he learned that his own experience, talent, time, and skills are important and that he must be careful not to sell himself short. He also learned that having a community around him and networking will be very important going forward.
Both Moncies and Izaiah are continuing classes with Foci and look forward to honing their skills and building their confidence in glass work and beyond. They also showcased their skills through demonstrations at this year’s Minnesota State Fair.
This opportunity would not have been made possible without the support of our partner, LEAP. Designed to provide employment and educational opportunities to young people facing some of the greatest challenges in adulthood, Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential provides young people with the tools they need to succeed. National and local philanthropies support the initiative, which is partially funded by a grant from the Social Innovation Fund, an agency of the Corporation for National and Community Service.