Make Space

Make Space pairs 12 sixth-grade girls—all of whom attend Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School—with 12 women for a year of mentorship and art-making. Until recently, Make Space was called A Space of Her Own, or SOHO for short. VisArts launched the program in the fall of 2008, and since then, it has affected the lives of almost 200 women and girls.

The big/little pairs meet on Thursday evenings from September through May and create art together in VisArts’ studios, learning leadership skills and the art of self-expression. On a rotating basis, small groups kick off their nights with an hour of “Girl Talk,” a special curriculum that helps the girls and their mentors discuss concepts relating to trust, confidence, communication and self-efficacy. The program also includes field trips to local art galleries and other cultural institutions in the greater Richmond region.

In addition to meeting with the girls, mentors also attend their own training sessions once a month throughout the year. These sessions are led by guest speakers and are designed to expand the mentorship and leadership skills of each woman. Make Space is an affiliate member of the Virginia Mentoring Partnership.

The artwork the women and girls make together— like throw pillows, lap desks and self-portraits—are saved until year’s end, when each girl receives a bedroom makeover. Big/little pairs work together to install all of the girls’ art projects as well as assemble new furniture and clean and repurpose existing furniture. The work results in 12 colorful and inspiring rooms that give each girl a space to make her own.

Over the years, many women and girls have formed lasting relationships that extend through middle school, high school and even college.

Become a Mentor

Each year, VisArts recruits 12 women to serve as Make Space mentors. Women need to have the capacity to commit to weekly classes on Thursday evenings from September through May as well as monthly mentor training sessions on Friday afternoons. In addition, they should be able to dedicate two weekends—the last weekend in April and the first weekend in May—to working on the girls’ bedroom makeovers. Download the full schedule for the 2017-18 academic year. We’re currently accepting mentor applications for the 2017-18 academic year.

Become a Sponsor

For Make Space to be successful, VisArts needs both monetary and in-kind donations. Companies have donated everything from fabric and paint to photography supplies and bed frames. We recognize all our sponsors in Make Space’s print and web materials, and sponsors are also invited to the closing ceremony, which is held in May.

Questions about becoming a Make Space mentor or a sponsor? Contact Nicki Stein at [email protected] or (804) 353-0094, ext. 234.

Special Thanks to Our Sponsors