Episode 7: Pioneering Youth Entrepreneurship & Sustainability

Artists For Humanity (AFH) was founded 25 years ago by Susan Rodgerson with a seemingly simple idea: Engaging urban young people in collaborative art making gives them a voice in the arts – and business – community. Rodgerson describes the evolution of AFH’s creative jobs program, which now employs 300 kids annually and earned just under $1.5 million last year. Committed to a sustainable future, Rodgerson also shares expansion plans for the EpiCenter, AFH’s building and first Platinum LEED building in Boston.

Susan RodgersonSusan Rodgerson is the founding Executive/Artistic Director of Artists For Humanity (AFH), a nonprofit youth development organization that provides productive and life-changing opportunities for young people through paid employment in art and design. In 25 years, AFH has become the largest onsite employer of Boston teens. Its program model has received multiple honors and has been replicated internationally.

In 2004, under Rodgerson’s leadership, AFH developed a youth arts facility, the EpiCenter, which became the first building in Boston to achieve LEED Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. Rodgerson is now strategically expanding the EpiCenter to create more youth, cultural and sustainable opportunities for the Boston community. The expanded facility will break new ground in environmental responsibility as an energy positive model for Boston and beyond.

Rodgerson has served as the Social Entrepreneur in Residence at Pace University, Harvard University School of Education and Stanford University Business School. Her honors include the 2013 Charles Ansbacher Award for Culture and Community; 2008 Honorary Doctor of Public Service degree, Tufts University; Lesley University Alumni Community Service Award; the Carlisle Foundation Creative Entrepreneur Award; and the Massachusetts College of Art + Design Award Excellence in Education.

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