Working Classroom provides academic and artistic education to talented young artists and actors from historically ignored communities.
“The arts both mirror who we are as a nation and help us interpret where we are headed and what we want to become,” says Nan Elsasser, founder and director of Working Classroom. “As long as some communities are invisible or underrepresented, the reflection is distorted and the conversation is incomplete.”
Working Classroom hires professional artists from the community to provide mentoring to students in visual and performing arts. Working Classroom includes a street conservatory where students study art and theater, a bilingual theater company, a student gallery, academic tutoring center and college scholarship fund. Every project and program emphasizes community advocacy and incorporates academic, entrepreneurial, and life skills. Students are also encouraged to work in their native languages and promote peace and human rights through the arts.
A client of The Loan Fund’s for more than a decade and recent recipient of the Longevity Award at The Loan Fund’s 20th anniversary celebration, Working Classroom is in the process of moving to a larger facility, which will help expand services to include even more students.
“The Loan Fund has helped us take on bigger and more art projects within the community,” Elsasser says. “Initially, The Loan Fund took a risk on us. They provided us funding when we had an annual budget of only $7,000, and that has helped us grow into what we are today.”