When Jackie Anne Joseph ’14 first transferred to Curry College, she wasn’t entirely sure what she wanted to do for a major. She was the first in her family to attend college, and claims she wasn’t the best student at the time. But eventually, she found her passion at Curry, and it changed the course of her career.
Jackie majored in Criminal Justice and minored in Sociology and Communication. It was in her Criminal Justice Capstone course where she learned about the field of Restorative Justice, and immediately knew it was something she wanted to dedicate her life towards.
During her job search after graduation, she came to a point where she asked herself, “What is it that I want to do for the rest of my life? What lights me up?” Her answer was to implement programs to work with at-risk kids, infusing her love of restorative processes which she first learned at Curry, along with a love of the arts. She wanted to create space where students—who otherwise did not have it-- could find community. And so, she created her very own non-profit foundation.
Founded in 2020, the A.R.T.S (Academic-Artists Reaching Toward Success) Foundation works with children from Brockton and surrounding cities and towns in after-school and out-of-school programming. The program creates space for artistically inclined students to be creative; whether it is theater, rapping, dance, visual arts, or film, A.R.T.S. provides middle and high school students with the opportunity to grow in their artistry professionally.
Jackie’s approach to working with the youth, grades 6-12, is inherently restorative. “When there is conflict, it isn’t for us to expel. It’s about a conversation—a conversation about a conversation. It’s inclusive and respectful. We want to look at what is missing for this student. We want to look at impact.” She describes the importance of this approach in working with kids who are at risk, and for them to find a place to be creative.
She is appreciative of the mentoring her Curry professors provided to her, and credits one of her Curry Communication courses with helping to prepare her to run her own non-profit. She notes that her Criminal Justice background helped her in asking more critical questions about programs and policies, and these skills served her well in establishing A.R.T.S.
“I ask about the ethics of policies. I ask whether policies work; I ask about unintended consequences,” she said. But most importantly, she feels fortunate for that Senior Capstone course which introduced her to the philosophy and practice of restorative justice. She says learning about this approach changed her life: “I don’t know what I would have done without it. It created a whole world for me to consider.”
A.R.T.S currently has grant funding through the Massachusetts After School Partnership (MAP) and the Brockton Local Council. Jackie Joseph currently serves as the Executive Director. You can find more information here: www.artsfoundationinc.org.