Creative Reaction Lab also launched its Youth Creative Leadership Fund in response to COVID-19. The initial goal was modest — distribute $2,000 total to help 20 young people of color weather the pandemic.
“Thanks to the generosity of our community members and the McNulty Foundation, we were able to support 241 Black and Latinx young people across the nation with $24,500,” says Carroll. “That’s more than 10 times what we set out to provide.” Additionally, due to further support, they will soon launch a second round of the fund to assist 75 more Black and Latinx youth affected by COVID-19.
Inspiring the next generation of changemakers
Meanwhile, the young people who have benefited from Carroll’s mentorship are following in her footsteps, forging their own paths into art, design, and social change.
As a freelance designer and creative consultant, Jayvn Solomon is making a big impact in his community. He was the driving force behind PaintedBlack STL, raising money to hire Black artists to paint murals and messages of solidarity for Black Lives Matter. Artists are using boarded up storefronts as their canvas, amplifying their messages of support while bringing beauty and hope to their neighborhoods. Now he’s on to another high-profile project of his own making — Loutopia — a breathtaking way to reimagine urban spaces in St. Louis.
“We’re perfectly capable of making spaces more human, natural, and sustainable, whether that means adding murals, sculptures, trees, or even a wind turbine,” says Solomon. “By digitally rendering what these spaces could potentially look like, I’m inspiring people to change how they think.”
Quinton Ward is now Executive Director of the St. Louis Metro Market – a non-profit organization that sells groceries at a discount to communities with limited access to food. He describes it as “a farmer’s market on wheels.” Ward also participates in Creative Reaction Lab’s Seeds of Power Fellowship, spending a year diving deeper into ECCD and becoming a program facilitator. That has empowered him to join the larger conversation around design and social justice.
“My goal is to be an international artist, but I also understand that my work goes far beyond the gallery,” Ward says. “Through my creativity and the way I engage with others, I’m here to make a difference.”
As for Kristin Brown, as she finishes the Community Design Apprenticeship Program, she knows she just wants to continue doing similar work. She’s found that it has a strong connection with her background in investigative journalism — and she’s inspired to do more.
“Even as a journalist, it’s my responsibility to understand the communities I cover, and this program just reinforced that,” Brown says. “For me, Antionette planted the seeds to want to do more. I look at all she’s accomplished, and it’s so inspiring.”