Creative Fire: Pittsburgh Arts Group Helps Transform Youth

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Changer: Dexter Fairweather
Duration: 04:52

Being a teenager today is not easy, especially if you’re a young black male in the foster care system. According to recent research, more than 50% of Black males in foster care fail to get a high school diploma and they are twice as likely to be suspended or expelled as students living with their parents.

Dexter Fairweather was only 14 when his mom tragically died. His life in Chicago was turned upside down and he was sent to live with an aunt in Pittsburgh. The transition was difficult. Dexter got into a fight and was soon expelled from school.

Somewhere along the way, he discovered Pittsburgh’s Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (MCG), where an interest in ceramics changed his life. MCG is a historic arts and career training organization founded by MacArthur “Genius” Awardee Bill Strickland. The organization inspired Fairweather to think differently about his life. He challenged himself and ultimately became valedictorian of his high school class.

We sent Haji Muya, our Pittsburgh-based Game Changer Fellow, to investigate and learn more about what it took for Dexter to bounce back.