Students and arts quite a p:ear

The Portland State University course strategic management for nonprofits is one of 210 capstone programs, but is unique in its hands-on approach to fostering the arts. There are hundreds of university studies curriculums that elicit activity within the community, but “strategic,” facilitated by Jeremy Short of the School of Business, marries good causes with aesthetics and small business. Best yet, it has solidly planted p:ear gallery on its feet.

p:ear offers opportunities for artistic endeavor to homeless, pregnant or parenting, or otherwise marginalized youth.

“Many of the situations students encounter would also apply to small business,” Short said. “Students act somewhat as consultants and somewhat as volunteers. They have developed press releases, a business plan, convinced p:ear to remodel their gallery, worked toward creating an internship program and solicited donations from the community.”

This term marks Short’s third quarter overseeing students’ work with p:ear, and he said it’s been the best. “Their efforts and success were phenomenal and I couldn’t be prouder.”

“Learning how to work for and with community partners takes time for trust to develop between each party,” Short said. “A recent event was organized in less than two months and generated more than $1,500 for p:ear. The students this quarter have really raised the bar in terms of my expectations for future classes.”

Not quite your bag? Capstone coordinator Seanna Kerrigan said, “new capstone courses must be developed and approved through faculty. Of course, we encourage projects in the community in addition to capstone, which can be accredited through practicum or internship within a department.”

Have a pet charity or preferred focus for your activism? “Approach the caps office, see if a similar project currently exists,” Kerrigan said. “Perhaps faculty could ‘take on’ another community partner, but with 2,000 students graduating each year, anything new must be suggested at least a year in advance.”

p:ear is open from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Youth can access the program for any amount of time during that period. p:ear serves breakfast and lunch and provides bus tickets to work or home. p:ear supplies all school materials, art supplies, and recreation equipment, as well as the paperwork and financing to obtain an Oregon ID, the Oregon Health Plan, transcripts, vital records, and GED exams.

To contact p:ear, visit 809 S.W. Alder Portland, OR 97205, email [email protected] or call 503-228-6677. Haven’t selected a capstone yet? Plan to attend the capstone fair 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. May 4 in Smith Memorial Student Union 327, 328 and 329. Learn about a new Students for p:ear internship through the Student Activities and Leadership Program. The SALP office is located in the SMSU Room 119.