ABOUT COMMUNITY ARTS EXPERIENCE
Community Arts Experience, Inc. (C.A.E.) envisions a world where arts accessibility empowers individuals for positive change and personal growth, fostering a united community where everyone thrives.
C.A.E. exists to empower, serve, and promote community and individual well-being through arts-infused experiences.
To promote the well-being and success of our participants, C.A.E. acknowledges the importance of removing barriers and improving access to vital resources. To achieve this goal, C.A.E. works with a network of community partners to establish a comprehensive and coordinated system of services that connects participants with mental health support, affordable housing, transportation, childcare, quality education, and programs for preventing and treating opioid and substance misuse.
C.A.E. provides an all-inclusive learning system encompassing physical, economic, psychological, social, and emotional well-being through artistic expression. Its aim is to empower participants with the necessary knowledge, skills, and values to achieve their maximum potential and emerge as influential change leaders in their homes and communities, leaving a lasting legacy for future generations.
C.A.E.'s four service divisions - Arts & Culture, STEM & Media, Health & Wellness, and Workforce Development - offer a personalized educational experience that equips participants for leadership and social impact. Each division combines arts-infused learning, trauma-informed practices, character and leadership development, and family engagement strategies providing a well-rounded and supportive environment for growth and success. These offerings are built on the following four dynamic pillars:
Responsive & Positive Interventions & Supports: Providing a safe environment that values academic, behavioral, and social-emotional needs, addressing mental health issues, fostering resilience, generating cultural capital, and utilizing data-driven decision-making on all levels.
Person-centered Approaches to Learning: Encourage participants to actively contribute and become decision-makers in their learning process while acknowledging their individual learning styles, communication preferences, relationship-building abilities, and decision-making skills based on personal attitudes, social skills, and intellect.
College Planning, Workforce, and Entrepreneurship Development: Focusing on college & career exploration activities and experiences, incorporating multiple pathways from elementary school to adulthood, and developing 21st-century skills for employability essentials.
Parent & Family Engagement Mandate: Providing family capacity-building enrichment activities and access to family-supported resources and services, refining corporate strategies with community partners to address education and social needs to enhance outcomes for children and families.
Learn more about our history here.
In 2008, B.J. Pleasant founded C.A.E. as a response to the growing concerns regarding the lack of arts-infused learning programs, poor academic performance in schools, and rising violence in Stark County, Ohio. C.A.E. was established with a primary focus on underserved children disproportionately affected by these issues. The organization aimed to create a performing arts after-school program that employed a three-pronged approach, emphasizing family, school, and community engagement.
In 2009, C.A.E. achieved its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the I.R.S. By 2010, the organization began offering arts-integrated programs to the public. That summer, C.A.E. launched a theatre arts program for 50 underserved youth, culminating in the successful production of "The Wiz." The play sold out both performances, attracting 2,200 attendees and sparking multiple requests for C.A.E. to provide arts enrichment and media and technology programming to local schools and community organizations.
As the organization grew and developed, it continually assessed the effectiveness of its programs by analyzing student performance data. Through this evaluation, C.A.E. identified crucial skill gaps that the organization was uniquely positioned to address. Consequently, the organization observed significant improvements in student outcomes, including a 34% average increase in Science, Reading, and Math testing results, a 5% rise in attendance rates, and an 11.4% improvement in positive student behavior.
Encouraged by the success of its initial programs, C.A.E. expanded its reach from young individuals aged 13 to 18 to impact a broader demographic, offering services for children and adults between the ages of 7 and 55+ - with a focus on providing individuals with the necessary skills and training to compete in a technology-driven work environment, including vocational rehabilitation services to help persons with disabilities. This expansion signaled a commitment to the holistic development of participants across various age groups, ensuring they would be well-equipped to face the challenges of an ever-evolving job market.
In 2014, C.A.E. recognized the need to address the high prevalence of opioid and substance abuse in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. Mercer County has been grappling with the long-term effects of significant industrial closures due to the great depression of 2007. In response to this critical need, C.A.E. extended its services to Mercer County and began implementing trauma-informed practices and workforce development training opportunities. By building participants' strengths and addressing the community's specific needs, C.A.E. demonstrated its commitment to fostering resilience and healing among its constituents.
As a result of its diligent work in this area, C.A.E. became a certified trauma-informed organization in 2020. This certification solidified the organization's capacity to provide adequate support and services for individuals and families impacted by trauma, substance use disorder, and other mental health issues. With this achievement, C.A.E. further established itself as a leader in holistic care and support, ensuring the well-being of its participants and the communities they served.
C.A.E.'s experience and success in alternative learning led the organization to explore new avenues for collaboration with community professionals. Recognizing the potential for greater impact through collective action, C.A.E. sought to create a significant education and support hub for developing non-traditional strategies that would best benefit individuals needing training and support services. Over the past decade, C.A.E. has refined its coalition-based approach, mobilizing community professionals to engage in public action and volunteering to address many issues, including high crime rates, high unemployment rates, high drop-out rates, chronic disease, mental health, and substance use disorders.
Today, C.A.E. provides its participants with various arts-infused online and on-demand services delivered in a flexible schedule and small group setting. The organization's commitment to personalized learning experiences ensures that each participant has the opportunity to thrive and succeed at their own pace. Experienced and professional instructors within the communities C.A.E. serves work closely with youth and adult learners, helping them make informed educational decisions that align with their academic and career goals.
OUR CORE VALUES:
At C.A.E., our core values guide our actions and shape our organizational culture. These values help us remain focused on our mission and ensure that we consistently provide a positive impact on the communities we serve.
Passion for the Arts
We champion the transformative power of the arts, encouraging innovation and creative expression as essential tools for personal development and community enrichment.
Inclusivity and Diversity
We are committed to creating a welcoming and supportive environment that embraces diversity and fosters a sense of belonging for all learners, regardless of their background or abilities.
We believe in equipping individuals with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to reach their full potential and create positive change in their communities.
We prioritize the physical, emotional, social, psychological, and economic well-being of our students, staff, and community, recognizing that success depends on a healthy balance across all aspects of life.
We approach our work with empathy and understanding, recognizing the unique challenges faced by each individual and providing tailored support to help them overcome barriers to success.
We value strong partnerships with families, schools, and community organizations, working together to create a supportive network for our students and enhance the positive impact of our programs.
We hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards, ensuring transparency, accountability, and honesty in all our actions and decisions.
We continuously strive to improve and adapt our programs, services, and teaching methods to meet the evolving needs of our students and communities.
Commitment to Excellence
We are dedicated to delivering high-quality programs and services, continuously striving for improvement, and measuring our success by the positive impact we make in the lives of our learners and their communities.