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Dollar Bank Supports Cleveland's Center for Arts-Inspired Learning

Dollar Bank is proud to support the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning’s Artworks Live! Artworks Live is a culmination of the Center’s Artworks program, which is a college and career readiness initiative centered on harnessing the power of the arts to impart transferable skills to high school students in Northeast Ohio.

Each ArtWorks participant assumes the role of an apprentice, entering a dynamic "co-op" of 10-12 peers with a shared focus on a specific art form. “It’s really a work readiness program and the work is the artwork,” CEO and President of Center of Arts-Inspired Learning, Sheffia Randall-Nickerson said. “That makes us different from other apprenticeship programs and the idea here is that you can make a living in the arts and through the arts.”

The program heavily focuses on educating and preparing students for sustaining a career in the arts. They will work with a mentor for 8 to 10 weeks. At this period's end, they will show their achievements in a special event called Artworks Live. This event celebrates their hard work and gives them an opportunity to share their creative endeavors with family, friends and the community.

“In our time a lot of the youth think they’re going to be a YouTuber and that’s great, but how do you sustain that? It’s great to have the idea, but how do you do that and stay consistent and be professional?” Jimmie Woody, the Director of Community Programming at Center for Arts-Inspired Learning said. “That’s what Artworks program does. For many of these kids, it’s their first job, their first letter of reference when they’re trying to get other jobs or go to school.”

Providing access to mentors and providing the opportunity for students to work on their art was a big focus for Randall-Nickerson.

“I fell in love with theater at the age of 15. I took dance classes, and I found my tribe, I found my thing. The bug bit me and never let go. Growing up, I always wanted to be in the arts, I wanted to perform and what I found was that not everybody had access to the arts like I did,” Randall-Nickerson said. “That really fueled a passion for arts education and arts administration in me. I want others to have those same opportunities, which really brought me to the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning.”

For Dorothy Curtis, Vice President of Community Development at Dollar Bank, that was the exact reason she wanted to support the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning and the Artworks program.

"Knowing the importance of music, the arts, the performances and how it impacts students is just amazing but unfortunately they don’t always offer those in high schools anymore, at least here in the Cleveland area,” Curtis said. “Being a product of Cleveland public schools and having the opportunity to play an instrument, it meant much more knowing how important it was and how it affected me in my life. It really is a way to give back to these aspiring students.”

The Artworks program is the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning’s longest running program, nearly 20 years according to Randall-Nickerson and Woody. Woody was a participant himself as well.

“I did the original Artworks Live program in either its second or third year,” Woody said. “After that, I was with the organization as a roster artist where I would travel throughout Northeast Ohio and do engagements about the arts. I then became a resident reach artist, where we were full time artists within the office. Years later, I returned to Center for Arts-inspired Learning and became the head of Community Programming, where I get to oversee the same program I did almost 20 years ago.”

The program also emphasizes collaboration and fostering a community among artists, regardless of their chosen art mediums.

“The Artworks program is close to my heart because the youth come together and work collaboratively,” Randall-Nickerson said. “Everyone comes together to create something. We highlight that working collaboratively in the arts can elevate them and their desires in the workplace.”

“It’s a community. It’s a culture, it’s almost like family,” Woody said. “Some of the kids in the program may feel like they’re the outcast in their school, but in Artworks where there are other artists, they found some camaraderie amongst people that are just like them. They realize they’re not alone.

Not only does the Artworks program focus on preparedness with art, but it also teaches financial literacy. Students learn how to use their money wisely and how money impacts their art. All students who go through the program get paid and have the chance to earn a commission by selling their artwork to the public at the at the Artworks Live! Event.

“This is a paid apprenticeship” Randall-Nickerson said. “So, then the question is, out of their paycheck, how much is going towards production costs, how much are they trying to save? We love seeing them work on and grapple with these real-life entrepreneurial techniques, skills and being able to do so in a safe space.”

Dollar Bank partners with the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning on financial literacy, sending bank representatives to talk about a wide variety of topics including budgeting, what credit is and more, to help educate the next generation as they prepare to enter the workforce or higher education.

“Dollar Bank is sharing resources with the young adults and having people come in and work with them on budgeting and credit,” Randall-Nickerson said. “Being able to work with Dollar Bank on helping them level up and really understand what it is they’re doing and on those financial literacy aspects is so important. They’re learning in class and making everything very real, applying it in the moment.”

“We’re just so thrilled to have a partnership and sponsorship with Dollar Bank for Artworks Live because it allows us to do more with our artworks market, where they can sell the artwork, they’ve been working on, and they can show the entrepreneurial skills they’ve been working on,” Randall-Nickerson said. “They can apply the techniques, the skills and the things they’re learning. How are you going to price it? How do you market it? How are you going to do your transactions. It gives them real life in real time opportunity to show their entrepreneurial muscle and they’re able to do it with guidance.”

About Dollar Bank

Dollar Bank has assets of more than $11.5 billion. Today, Dollar Bank operates more than 90 locations throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, and Virginia and has over 1,500 employees. For more than 168 years, Dollar Bank has grown to become the largest mutual bank in the United States, committed to providing the highest quality of banking services to individuals and businesses. Dedicated to aiding the communities it serves, Dollar Bank supports quality of life initiatives, financial literacy programs, and organizations devoted to helping individuals and families in need. Dollar Bank ( is headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.