The Explorer Program, founded by Julius Givens, works to allow students to explore, inspire, and transform their creative and artistic abilities. Arts and music education have been determined to be effective in helping economically disadvantaged students to succeed in school. Of the 1,715 Chicago Public School teachers laid off in the past two years, 159 were in the arts and music departments.
Many Chicago Public School students live in negative emotional and physical households and areas. Many students are unaware of the opportunities around them, often made worse with overpopulated classrooms and minimal attention.
Julius founded The Explorer Program to provide these students with a way to explore and express themselves through a new outlet. The Explorer Program is founded on the belief that art is for everyone and that art can change the world.
Julius has been giving back to the community his entire life. He attributes his mother for his understanding of the importance of creating change. To be happy and to make other people happy is his greatest reward.
“I got involved in the non-profit space like any other entrepreneur around the world-I saw a problem and came up with a solution.”
Day-to-day life at The Explorer Program is never the same. However, Julius’ general responsibilities include being a spokesperson for the organization by clearly communicating their vision and how they stand by it, to increase public awareness, and to find the right talent to join their team.
Although it is a great cause, nothing has come easy to the program. Like everyone else, The Explorer Program has to start small. Some of the difficulties Julius faced had to do with getting off the ground. He wanted to add value to as many people as quickly as he could and help these students succeed, but he has to remind himself of the benefits of starting small and learning from your mistakes.
Julius hopes that his use of art in capturing students’ attention can transfer over to other areas of their lives. His favorite experience so far is noticing the difference in the way The Explorers (students) see the world after their time with The Explorer Program.
Julius has really enjoyed his time with the organization. He has learned that working with non profits is no different than any for-profit business. If he pitches to investors about their value the same as he would as a for-profit organization, raising capital and awareness comes easier. As founder of the Explorer Program, the best management technique that he has learned is, “remembering it’s not about me and every decision I make should embody that thought first and foremost.”
While The Explorer Program continues to grow with supporters and explorers themselves, Julius drives change in the community by providing different opportunities and experiences for these disadvantaged students. The value Julius sees in his job lies in the relationship building that promotes change and good work. “These students begin to see the world differently, which is the first step to impacting the community in which they live.”
If you would like to get involved with The Explorer Program, head to their website and get in touch with Julius to see how you can impact the community through the arts. For more upcoming features on non profits in the Chicagoland area, stay up to date with WeevU at weevu.com and be sure to like us on Facebook!