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Press Release

Local students exposed to art through U.S. Attorney’s Office art mentoring program

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Florida

MIAMI – For the first time since COVID-19, the Artify Art Mentoring Program of the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) for the Southern District of Florida has returned.

Part of the Law Enforcement Coordination and Community Outreach Section, USAO, this program pairs Paul L. Dunbar K-8 Center students with art mentors from New World School of the Arts, Visual Arts Program, in Miami.

The program, which staff began in 2016, was started because research showed the arts provide students with more creative outlets, additional skills, and career options. The proximity of Dunbar K-8 Center to New World School of the Arts made it a natural choice to pilot the program.

“It’s a way for a seasoned college art student to provide knowledge on different art subjects to young students who may not get that exposure otherwise,” said Law Enforcement Coordination Specialist Michael L. Martinez. “Each mentor may focus on different mediums. This year, for instance, we have one mentor who specializes in sculpting but has a background in drawing and painting.”

Job opportunities for art students include fine artist creating and selling original work; illustrator; graphic designer; art teacher; and interior/furniture designer, among others.

“We are always trying to find new ways to impact the lives of our youth and communities in the best way possible,” said Law Enforcement Coordination Specialist Mark McKinney. “Art is a way for students to express themselves and the feelings they have in that moment, plus learn life skills that may benefit them down the road.”

New World School of the Arts mentors work with the entire Dunbar 8th-grade class, which comprises 17 students. The mentors come to Dunbar and work with the class twice per month. The small class size ensures plenty of one-on-one instruction.

“The students see the same mentor each session,” said Martinez. “It’s a good way for them to establish trust and build a rapport. You can see the relationship grow. At first, the students may be hesitant to participate or ask questions of the mentor, but as time moves on, they really open up. It’s nice to see.” 

Past ideas for the students have included new murals on school walls and minor repairs to existing murals, in addition to various assignments provided by the art mentor.

“Artify promotes self-esteem, fosters creativity, builds positive relationships, and teaches life skills like problem solving, persistence, and collaboration,” said Community Outreach Specialist Robin McCowen. “Students learn that they have options, and they feel empowered to make positive choices and contribute to their communities.”

It’s not just the students who are excited, the mentors also enjoy the interaction.

“They’re excited to be in the program,” said Martinez. “Their enthusiasm comes through when teaching the kids. You can see it when they have that lightbulb moment and learn a new skill. It’s special for the mentors.” 

You may find a copy of this press release (and any updates) on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at

A New World School of the Arts mentor recently showed Paul L. Dunbar 8th-grade students techniques to produce art projects using a cyanotype paper, sun exposure, and water to create an almost x-ray effect. The mentorship program is a collaboration between Law Enforcement Coordination & Community Outreach Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Visual Arts Program of New World School of the Arts.  



Public Affairs Unit

U.S. Attorney’s Office

Southern District of Florida

Updated March 27, 2024

Community Outreach