Fine Feather Foundation Promotes Healing Through the Arts, Fosters Mental Well-Being

United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley actively supports organizations that are making a difference through its Fund for Racial Justice and Equity (FRJE) grant, which seeks to transform people and communities by investing in Black and Brown leaders and organizations.

A grant recipient, the Fine Feather Foundation makes a profound impact on the lives of young people through art-based programs that support mental health initiatives. Fine Feather Foundation advocates “healing through the arts.” The nonprofit organization’s mission is to build communities of allies and volunteers who execute art-based initiatives that protect and empower at-risk youth and their families. It provides a safe and nurturing environment where young individuals can express themselves creatively, fostering mental well-being. 

Through the FRJE grant, the Fine Feather Foundation was able to support its annual summer camp. In 2023, around 60 students were a part of the summer program, and the funding enabled the organization to provide nutritious meals for the students and organize weekly field trips that exposed them to different aspects of arts and culture they might not have experienced otherwise.

During the summer camp, the students are engaged in eight art-based programs that allow them to explore their creativity and emotions freely. Beyond art, the foundation also provides essential mental health support and resources. The young participants create art pieces that serve as a medium to express their feelings and experiences, helping them process their emotions. The nonprofit is sensitive to mental well-being and offers supportive services for children who battle mental health issues such as suicide, bullying, anxiety and depression while also providing creative and performing arts classes.

Fine Feather Foundation’s success has resulted from a true community effort. Collaborations with organizations like United Way, Lehigh Valley Health Network, Ripple Community Inc., the Da Vinci Science Center and others have played a pivotal role in supporting the nonprofit’s initiatives and filling in gaps where needed. Partnerships like these are crucial to support the Fine Feather Foundation’s goal to expand its capacity to reach more children and have a wider impact.

Fine Feather Foundation has seen tangible results from its programs. In the most recent summer camp, which FRJE funds supported, the organization achieved a 98% attendance rate, reflecting the high demand and enthusiasm among the students. The program’s success can be measured by the increased confidence of the participants, evident in their willingness to perform on stage during recitals.

The foundation has also taken a proactive approach by consulting with the students themselves to shape the programs according to their interests. Recognizing our digital age, Fine Feather Foundation tailored its programs to include podcasting, music production, and film production, ensuring the organization remains relevant and engaging for the youth.

“Our summer camp brings together a diverse group of children. You see children with special needs, those who might have been considered a ‘bully,’ and those who are considered shy,” said Founder and Executive Director of Fine Feather Foundation Andrene Brown. “This inclusive environment fosters understanding among the students and encourages deep conversations about various topics, including the impact of COVID-19 on their mental health. Through art, these young individuals found a powerful outlet for self-expression. We believe that there is no such thing as ‘bad’ or ‘good’ art; it’s all about expressing oneself in a safe and judgment-free environment.”

Fine Feather Foundation’s journey highlights the power of art to heal and unite communities. Through its art-based programs and partnerships, it creates a brighter future for youth in the Lehigh Valley. Its impact underscores the significance of supporting organizations run by Black and Brown leaders through initiatives such as United Way’s FRJE. As the organization continues to expand its capacity, it’s clear that Fine Feather Foundation’s commitment to healing through the arts will continue to change lives and communities in the Lehigh Valley.

United Way awarded the following local organizations with grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 through the FRJE:

Grant funding is made possible thanks to partners and donors who directed their support to the Fund for Racial Justice and Equity, including PPL Foundation, Crayola, Behr, Martin Guitar Charitable Foundation, Truist, Lehigh Valley Community Foundation and United Way Women United.

Learn more about United Way and the grant program by visiting our Fund for Racial Justice and Equity page.