Summer Cohorts to Creativity and Connection

Updated: Aug 25


August 24, 2022 - In June we launched our 10-week Summer Cohorts. Twenty-five young people, ages 14-22, explored their interests and deepened skills in: Cooking, Film & Theater, Fashion & Entrepreneurship, Upstar TV and Digital Media Creation, and Mental Health & Creative Writing. Youth spent 6 hours in the group of their choice and an additional 4 hours in combined team-building experiences and field trips that included:

  • Kick-off BBQ and Lawn Games

  • Ice skating & pizza

  • Pajamas and movies

  • Scavenger hunt and SkyStar Wheel

  • Watercolor painting

  • Bowling

  • Cull Canyon water recreation

  • Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Most individual cohort group activities took place in our new Wellness Hub with access to quiet spaces and new equipment, including a heat press, screen printing press, and embroidery machine. Simultaneously we’ve continued to host our studio center drop-in recording sessions for local musicians and rising artists.


In the Fashion & Entrepreneurship cohort, for example, youth created business plans, logos on Photoshop, learned how to create transfers, and then used the heat press machine to apply them to apparel. In the process, staff asked clarifying questions to help them plan for success, “How many shirts would you buy? How much would you sell them for? Who’s your target audience? How would you expand that audience? What are your distribution and storage plans?”


In another cohort focused on Film & Theater, youth worked with Bay Area filmmaker, Jared Callahan, to create and produce a short film. The group began by spending time viewing films, media, and music videos that they were passionate about and analyzed what made them effective. After exploring archetypal themes found in stories throughout history, they worked on a collaborative film project that embodied what they’d learned. This involved brainstorming a concept, co-writing a script, and acting while staff recorded them at a remote location. They’re now in the process of seeing the work realized as they make finishing edits before the final release and distribution.


For the Cooking Cohort youth helped organize the kitchen, worked on knife handling and chopping skills, practiced reading recipes and scaled up recipes to feed large groups. Using fresh ingredients, they cooked birria tacos, yakisoba, fresh spaghetti and garlic bread, falafel, hummus, Arabic salad, knafeh (an Arabic dessert), two kinds of pasta salads, and chicken adobo. They also took two field trips to explore the cuisine of different neighborhoods, including Asian food in Daly City and Indian Food in the Mission.


Reflecting on the summer cohort experience in view of the changing nature of the pandemic, Director of Digital Arts, Joel Tarman, said, “Kids are trying to figure out how to be normal when things aren’t normal. So we’re constantly trying to figure out how to engage them where they’re at. Post-pandemic there’s so much re-building. We’re helping them rebuild trust, reconnect, and be in community.”