It all happened so fast! ⚡️

We’ve been thinking of you all year…

We missed seeing your beautiful faces more than you know, but we could feel your support. Thank you for sticking with the Youth Art Team this year. You can make a special donation to support the artists now.

There’s so much to share that we can’t fit it all into one email. But we’re going to try anyway, because you need to know what you helped make possible in 2020!

BIG news from us for you at the end PLUS meaningful gift ideas that Youth Art Team can help you pull off just in time for the holidays!


1 • Peace Together

The new Peace Together project was building on the “Our Freedom Story” mural – the artists were beginning to tell specific stories about local people and places represented in the mural. Then the pandemic hit and schools closed. But just before that we unveiled the very first portrait… and it was recorded! You can watch us unveil it at the Black History Showcase.

2 • Power Groups

Youth Art Team switched gears fast. Artists were already connecting remotely and creating together by the end of March in newly created Power Groups. You can visit this online gallery of work produced in the first round, or look at what this Power Group did with the Western Home that later inspired this at one local school!

3 • Volunteers

We have the most amazing team! Volunteers fought through the technology with us to meet on Zoom weekly, delivered snacks to artist doorsteps during remote summer camp, helped design organizational policies that bring freedom, cheered artists on during online school, delivered meals to families in times of need. Youth Art Team could not have done this without each of you!

4 • Seeing Beethoven

Za’Marion, Cederick, and Alexander devoted nearly 20 hours *each* to Beethoven this summer! We hope you’ll find time over the holidays to take in “Seeing Beethoven,” the culmination of their work and the music of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony, brought together by The New Live.

5 • Banned Books Week

Aerz, Corin, Ian, Janea, Lillian, Niara, and Violet celebrated Banned Books Week with the Waterloo Public Library. The contest is over but you can still play our game for fun! Can you guess which books Youth Art Team artists read?

6 • Making Iowa Home

Artists invited people who have come to Iowa from around the world to share their personal stories together over a meal. (It’s the last thing we did before the pandemic!) Addelyn, Araceli, Elena, Emma, Gabriel, Nivek, Sophie, and Viviana stuck with it over Zoom, and eventually… we published a book! It’s beautiful. 100 colorful pages. We did it, you guys. And you can order it!

7 • Power-up in the Park

All 15 lead team artists whose families chose to start the school year online signed up to meet in small groups to complete their schoolwork. They met weekly outdoors, were safely spread out, wore masks, and ate snacks.

8 • Mentoring

The artists told us they didn’t need a big new project this fall – they simply needed support. So Youth Art Team matched 17 lead team artists with mentors to check in with them regularly during this unpredictable year. They texted each other, taught one other to draw, solved Rubik’s cubes, hung out by over online video games, worked out math problems, just talked. Good, good, goodness.

9 • We turned 10 years old!

We’re growing up so fast. Past artists came back and current artists got to see each other again at our drive-in party. Our movie helped us remember who we are as a team in the midst of this wild year. It was WINDY and our birthday cupcakes went FLYING. It was perfect…ly normal for a little while. You can still send us a birthday present! We’ll be celebrating all year…

10 • If 2020 wasn’t big enough…

Youth Art Team Headquarters found a new home! We’ve been outgrowing our space that we loved, and the pandemic sure shrunk it. Donors who believe in the artists made it possible for us to move into Waterloo’s historic Masonic Temple building – new space to spread out and dream BIG. We can’t wait until we can invite you all over! New address: 325 E Park Ave, Suite 101.

Still looking for just the right gift?

We’ve got you: 

We know people are looking for extra meaningful gifts this year. If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, Making Iowa Home is hot off the press and might be just the right! (Local pickup available through December 23 and again after the holidays.) You can also support Youth Art Team by making a donation or purchasing something from our wish list in someone’s honor this holiday season.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Shop-button.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is WishList-button.jpg


All of this happened this year because the artists and volunteers and families and staff spent TEN YEARS getting to know each other – and getting to know YOU!

Youth Art Team is like a sports team. It only works when everyone plays their positions. Whatever position YOU are playing, we are thankful that you are a part of this team.

Monthly donors, a special note just for you:
Thank you for staying strong this year! Every one of you – whether you donate $10 per month or $2000 per month – helped Youth Art Team keep going in 2020. Will you consider increasing your monthly donation in 2021? Just shoot us a message if you need help making adjustments ([email protected]).

Not a monthly donor yet?
We make it simple to join the monthly donor team. You can choose whatever level is comfortable for you.

Know a friend who might be inspired by the Youth Art Team artists’ work in our community? 
You can help spread the word by forwarding this email to them! They can sign up to receive A Sketch – this occasional update about the best of what’s happening through behind-the-scenes photos and stories from the artists themselves.



Four Youth Art Team staff members wearing masks outside at the 10-year birthday party!
Photo taken of staff at Youth Art Team’s drive-in movie birthday party

Youth Art Team’s at its best when the artists shine out in front and the adults stick behind the scenes to cheer them on. But we think it’s about time you met the staff. Coming to “A Sketch” in 2021, along with more artist features and donor spotlights! 


Youth Art Team published a book!

Youth Art Team has been working on a book all year! You can preorder it now! (Books will arrive in time for Christmas.) When Kamyar Enshayan approached the Youth Art Team to collaborate, the idea to explore the meaning of the word “citizenship” seemed spot on. He had been reflecting on his own work during the past four decades and asking: Is citizenship about the piece of paper? Or is it something more?

Youth Art Team artists discussed ideas with Kamyar and decided to host a potluck. They wrote letters inviting people who have come to Iowa from around the world to share their personal stories together over a meal. Some invitees were friends and family of the artists, and some were local neighbors they hadn’t yet met.

The artists continued to meet weekly, preparing questions and practicing for the interview before welcoming their guests. The seven people who accepted the invitation came to Iowa from six countries. Each prepared special food dishes to share and brought objects from home that helped tell their stories. When asked, “What makes you feel at home?” some consistent themes emerged: the land, the food, and the people.

Youth Art Team artists documented the interviews by recording stories, scribbling notes, and taking photographs – thankfully, because it turned out that the potluck was the last time the artists were together before the coronavirus outbreak.

All of the art in this book was created by eight artists ages 9-17 remotely, from their homes, during the pandemic. Youth Art Team staff and volunteers dropped off art materials and snack bags on porches and doorsteps. 

Pre-order your copy today!

Youth Art Team is hiring!

Do you love people? Is it exciting to you to imagine cool ways to care for another person? Are you a good communicator and have the confidence to advocate on behalf of someone you care about?

Youth Art Team is looking for an artist & volunteer coordinator. Think you might be a good fit? Know someone who is?

Check out the Artist & Volunteer Coordinator job description.

Youth Art Team is accepting applications through November 10, 2020.