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    Key success factors

    • The project is supported by the St. Catharines Downtown Association (funding materials) and local businesses who provide mural space.
    • The ability to pay a stipend recruits high-quality graffiti artists. The artist gains access to a secure space where the work will be on display for at least two years, which adds further legitimacy to the project.
    • Needing to apply for the project means student participants are engaged and commit the time to the project. 
    • The course instructor and program facilitator are highly engaged in supporting the graffiti project and work together to remain flexible throughout the implementation of the project.

    Unique characteristics

    • The subject matter and project are unique, and students can develop and grow personally and professionally in a rare way.
    • The careful cultivation of reciprocity with community partners has led to significant impacts on both students and the community.
    • This project embraces the uncertainty inherent in service learning to create a transformative experience. While in the public, police and other business owners have approached students to question what they're doing and whether they're allowed to be there. These experiences were unpredictable and are connected to the project's central message of questioning graffiti in public spaces.

    Challenges

    • Provision of this opportunity depends on external funding of $1900-2400 per offering for materials and the artist's stipend.
    • The opportunity also depends on access to viable mural space in downtown St. Catharines. It can be difficult to sell the value proposition of beautifying the space through graffiti to community stakeholders.
    • Legal agreements need to be struck at the highest level between all stakeholders.
    • It can be difficult to design a mural interesting enough to engage students that can also be completed in the allotted time.

    Resources

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    Key characteristics

    • Type: Service Learning
    • Year program was established: 2017
    • Number of students per year: ~30
    • Number of employers/partners per year: 3
    • Programs/academic disciplines participating: Offered by Labour Studies in the Faculty of Social Sciences, but open to all students
    • Duration of experience: Two three-hour blocks (six hours total)
    • Submitted by: Carolyn Finlayson