About

Through art, there is hope.

The Arts Empowerment Project was founded in 2011 by Natalie Frazier Allen, an attorney and child advocate in Charlotte and former Chief of the Domestic Violence Unit in Washington, D.C. Our organization collaborates with lawyers, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Social Services, Guardians Ad Litem, and Mecklenburg County’s 26th Judicial District Court to make a difference in the lives of children affected by violence and abuse.

Vulnerable and at-risk children who participate in the arts discover an outlet for positive self-expression, personal growth and healing. Through art, they are empowered to break the cycle of violence and alter the trajectory of their lives.

TAEP screens children referred by the court, matches their interest to the local arts program best suited to their needs, and funds their tuition and transportation fees.

The Arts Empowerment Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and a member of Mecklenburg County’s 26th Judicial District Court’s Arts and Science Collaborative Initiative.

Our Pilot Program launched in May 2014. We will measure our outcomes and successes based on court-involved youth’s participation in existing arts programs, including arts workshops, classes and camps, and youth development programs.

Nat Bio Pic1

Natalie Frazier Allen, Founder and CEO

A Personal Commitment

As the daughter of a classically trained music teacher growing up in New York City, I know firsthand just how the arts can expand a child’s horizons. Sadly, I also know that the children  who most need a window to a better, more colorful world rarely have the opportunity to find  their artistic voice. The fight to protect children and teens from violence and abuse in our  communities is ongoing—the statistics are as staggering as they are heartbreaking. Far too many of these vulnerable children believe that violence is a normal and acceptable way of life. With limited community support or means of coping, how can we expect them to process the trauma, hurt, anger and sadness they experience?

The arts can offer a way out. And yet, while national studies have proven that the arts can change children’s lives by improving their social skills and academic performance, many at-risk young people never have the opportunity to participate in high quality arts programming. I wanted to help bridge the gap for this community of children and empower them through the arts, so I founded The Arts Empowerment Project.

Music, color, movement, song—these experiences can touch the parts of the human spirit that may be wounded and offer a light out of the darkness. The Arts Empowerment Project breaks down barriers to arts access so that at-risk youth can participate in visual and performing arts programs and activities in our community.

We believe that, through the arts, children flourish. I ask you to join our cause and help give children the opportunity to embrace an art form of their choosing, find joy and healing in self-expression, and step confidently into a new day.