ABRO Empowers At-Risk Youth Through Creative Arts

ABRO (Always Be Real Original), based in Southwest Philadelphia, offers creative outlets and community service initiatives to at-risk youth. Their mission is “to engage at-risk youth through the arts for positive youth development and expose them to skills training for the 21st-century creative economy.”

Founder Anthony Brown discovered how many teens are interested in the arts but don’t have an obtainable outlet to express it. “The absence of innovative art opportunities in Southwest Philadelphia leaves at-risk youth with idle time, which has been linked to increased community violence, as seen during the pandemic when rec centers and schools were closed,” says Brown. “The arts play a crucial role in enhancing quality of life, fostering creative expression, and reducing negative influences.”

During the 2022-2023 school year, ABRO produced the Anti-Violence School Tour, reaching over 10,000 students across 20 schools. Through assemblies featuring local artists, entrepreneurs, and anti-violence advocates, the organization aimed at empowering the students and leaving a lasting impact on the community.

ABRO’s future plans include a transformative 10-week program for boys 10-17 years old. This program will aim to engage and empower participants through mentoring, workshops, and skills training in the arts. The culmination of this effort will be a showcase event to raise funds for micro-academic scholarships, ensuring continued support for the participants.

ABRO’s impact is evident from the stories of the individuals who have been involved in the program. From mentoring a young individual in the criminal justice system into starting his own dance team to providing financial and mental health support for a victim of gun violence, ABRO’s efforts extend far beyond artistic expression. “We envision a community of youth and young adults, once at-risk but now thriving, reaching their full potential as creative leaders and game changers in their neighborhoods and personal lives,” says Brown, “living in a world that helps creative youth exceed by hands-on support.”

However, ABRO faces significant challenges, primarily stemming from financial constraints. The lack of funding limits their ability to expand their programs and support staff adequately.

Despite these challenges, ABRO is standing as a testament to the potential of creativity in fostering positive change. Through their programs, they are empowering at-risk youth, providing them with the tools and support they need to succeed in both their personal and professional lives. As they continue to grow, ABRO remains dedicated to making creative arts an integral part of youth development in Southwest Philadelphia and beyond.


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