South Africa - Port Elizabeth

IRFF UK has partnered with 'Art Works for Youth' in South Africa, Port Elizabeth.

The mission of Art Works for Youth is to provide free visual art instruction, academic support, and mentoring to students in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. They support all forms of education, especially the transformative power of creativity.


After separating from the government school system Art Work for Youths (AWFY) have teamed up with the locals, who own 25% of the Joe Slovo Township. Land has been granted and AWFY are currently in the process of raising money to build their own school on this site. They currently have raised a quarter of their total goal. (To see an in-depth account of the project and their development goals, click on the link above and download their information pack).

IRFF UK has a strong desire to support this project and one area that we are particularly keen to help with, is the building of the kitchen.

From our experience in Uganda, working at Destiny Junior School, we understand the necessity and importance of healthy meals for students. We have seen many children go without food where schools don’t provide adequate meals for them. How can children be expected to study on empty stomachs?


Art Works for Youth provides a warm meal for students in all programs. Aside from this late-day meal, they provide breakfast and lunch for their students most in need and run an emergency program that puts emergency food in many homes. 

Based on this IRFF-UK is aiming to start our support by raising £5000, which is the budget for building their new school's kitchen. 

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Art Works for Youth (AWFY) was founded in 2000 in New York City and operated in different parts of Africa.​

In 2002, a Middle School where AWFY had after school classes established a relationship with a school in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Through another non-profit organization, a cultural exchange took place between the American and South African schools.


AWFY was asked to assist in designing art projects that would enable the two groups of students to get to know one another prior to meeting in person. As a result of the exchange, AWFY shifted all programming to South Africa beginning spring 2003.

AWFY began traveling to South Africa three times annually for periods of two to six weeks at a time, teaching art instruction during and after school and working with teachers to expand their curriculum to include visual arts projects.


In 2009, AWFY began running year-round art classes at two primary schools in Port Elizabeth during school and after school hours.

Program Components

Art Instruction/Expression

Art Works for Youth uses art instruction as a way for

students to reflect on who they are, the people around them, and how they fit into this world. While teaching the basic elements of art, (line, color, space, design, value, shape, and texture,) we also encourage our students to use various media as a means of expression. Many of ArtWorks for Youth’s art projects include portraiture, self- portraiture, body and brain mapping, as well as theme, tone, and emotion and how to show them in their artwork

Sister’s Keeper

The Girls Group was initially formed in order to support

our most vulnerable students. The statistics involving the rape and abuse of girls and women in the Eastern Cape are staggering. AWFY has several students who have been abused, and a few who are HIV+ as a result; we wanted to give these young women a forum to discuss these and the other issues they face as women in Port Elizabeth.

Academic Support

Academic Support is the Art Works for Youth program that has grown the most. The graduation rate in the Eastern Cape is near 70%, though approximately 55% in the areas where our students attend school. This rate is actually close to that of the NYC public school graduation rate, but there is another issue at play here in South Africa. Students in grades ten and eleven are encouraged to leave school if it is assumed they are not going to graduate in 12th grade.

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Not one of the schools our students attend has a lending library. The closest public libraries in the areas where our students reside are nearly an hour walk and obtaining a library card is very difficult. Further, while high school students in Port Elizabeth have short story reading within the curriculum, few schools read novels until grade eleven or twelve. We began a library a year ago and have about 1,500 books for students in grades K – 12

Book collection is a year-round endeavor. Many books in South Africa are imported and all books are given a “luxury tax.” Because books are so expensive, we ask American volunteers to transport books to us when they volunteer with ArtWorks for Youth.

Feeding Program

Art Works for Youth provides a warm meal for students in all programs. Aside from this late-day meal, we provide breakfast and lunch for our students most in need and run an emergency program that puts emergency food in many homes. Because all of our students are lacking with appropriate food and nutrition, we spend a large portion of our budget is reserved for feeding our students.

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