Today, the Pennington County State Attorney's Office announced that its Juvenile Diversion Program is one of five programs nationally to receive a $50,000 grant through the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The competitive grant supports high-quality arts programs for justice-involved youth and will fund the county's Just Us Mural Project ("JUMP") in partnership with the Rapid City Arts Council. JUMP will serve an estimated 300 participants in the county’s diversion and detention programs.
The vision for JUMP is that justice-involved youth will benefit from culturally relevant arts education, resulting in fewer disciplinary infractions and greater compassion for themselves and others. The theory is that if justice-involved youth have opportunities to engage in group-based projects to create public murals, the participants will participate less often in high-risk behavior, gain critical self-management and social skills, develop new social bonds, and heal from traumas that lead to involvement in the justice system.
“For at-risk youths, the arts can provide an outlet to address emotional and/or problem behaviors through opportunities to learn new skills and express thoughts and ideas in creative and therapeutic ways,” said Juvenile Diversion Director Kim Morsching.
JUMP will include monthly mural workshops for Juvenile Diversion (JD) participants at the Dahl Arts Center, and for detained youth at the Juvenile Services Center (JSC). JD and JSC participants will work together in a cohort to complete an art project from start to finish and share the work in a ceremony with family and the community. By the end of the program, there will be 16 murals on public display, and the youth’s family and the broader community will be invited to support the participants’ artistic achievements.
"There isn't one aspect of life that art can't make better. Youth involved in our justice system often lack opportunities in the arts," said Rapid City Arts Council education director Melissa Nelson. "This grant will enable the arts council to expand the murals program in partnership with local artists as they work with these students to find their voices and express their stories through the transformative medium of murals. These collaborative art installations will support youth involved in the justice system and enrich our community as powerful symbols of resilience and the potential for positive change."
The project will begin in November and conclude in March 2025 with an exhibition of the JUMP artwork at the Dahl Arts Center.
For interview requests, please get in touch with Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office Public Information Officer Katy Urban at (605)390-1182 or Rapid City Arts Council Education Director Melissa Nelson at (605)394-4101 x 3.
The mission of the Rapid City Arts Council (RCAC) is to champion inclusive, innovative, and inspiring arts opportunities to enrich the communities we serve. This organization was founded in 1968 by visionary artists and art enthusiasts, and in 1987, RCAC became the official partner in expanding the city’s arts and cultural resources. Since 1974, RCAC has been the proud steward of the Dahl Arts Center, a civic resource owned by the City of Rapid City. RCAC is dedicated to advocating for the arts and amplifying the artistic voices of the region and offers a wide range of public arts programs, including exhibitions, live performances, and educational classes. Support comes from the Black Hills Area Community Foundation, John T. Vucurevich Foundation, South Dakota Community Foundation, and the South Dakota Arts Council with funds from the State of South Dakota through the Department of Tourism and the National Endowment for the Arts, and many local donors. Learn more at rapidcityartscouncil.org.