As a creative youth development organization, EPACENTER increases opportunities for East Palo Alto youth to amplify their talents, realize their potential, and impact their world through art and design. EPACENTER engages youth, ages 12-25, in a range of creative processes to develop their intrinsic voices, and the creative, critical thinking and socio-emotional skills they need to succeed. EPACENTER offers culturally-responsive instruction in the digital, visual, literary and performing arts during the school day, after-school and during the summer, engages youth in organizational decision-making and key leadership roles, and links youth to meaningful summer employment opportunities, college and careers.
Our name (pronounced “eppa-center arts”) refers to the rich cultural energy of our home, the City of East Palo Alto (EPA). East Palo Alto’s power and potential is evident in our young people. At EPACENTER, we provide opportunities for youth to amplify their creative voices, resulting in a stronger and more vibrant city.
The creation of our state-of-the art facility meets a critical need — East Palo Alto lacks an arts center. This gap leaves our youth and families without access to quality arts instruction. The arts are critical because students who take four years of arts and music classes average almost 100 points better on their SAT scores and students in under-resourced neighborhoods who study the arts are five times less likely to drop out of school. Plus, they are more than twice as likely to go to college.
EPACENTER solves this problem by providing easily accessible opportunities in a safe learning environment where the youth of EPA can develop their creativity and come together as a community.
We are currently in a Capital Campaign for a new 25,000 square foot facility. Located on the corner of Bay Street and Pulgas Avenue, the new facility is designed for longevity and resilience, with adaptive spaces that can evolve with the organization and remain environmentally sensitive. Construction began in early October 2018 and the new facility will open in June 2020.
When the new building is complete, youth of need in EPA will study art and design any day of the week — after-school, weekends or during the summer — for free.