Youth engagement Header - Young artist at work, seated in front of a brick wall wearing an apron and mixing paints in a palette.

Youth Engagement

  • While the Union building is now re-open to the public, our Youth Engagement programs continue to operate remotely and in distanced, outdoor settings until the risk of COVID spread among unvaccinated children diminishes.

Inspiring young artists

Thank you to The Fred and Eve Simon Charitable Foundation, Wells Fargo, and Richard Brooke Foundation for their generous support, which helps make The Union's Youth Engagement programming possible!

Thank you to our community partners No More Empty Pots and The Big Garden for enriching our culinary and small-scale agriculture curriculum!

Logos Richard Brooke Foundation No More Empty Pots Big Garden

The Union’s Youth Engagement program was created in response to neighborhood children who literally knocked on our door curious about the activity in our first home on Burdette Street. Recognizing a desire among neighborhood youth for hands-on art activities, we launched Art Club, an arts and culture enrichment program dedicated to providing a safe and welcoming environment for youth ages 7–14.

Today, we continue to offer free creative experiences for North Omaha youth, ranging from the visual and performing arts to urban agriculture and cooking. Since our founding in 2011, The Union has provided over 11,000 hours of creative and community-based programming for young people in North Omaha.

For questions regarding Youth Engagement, please contact Youth Studios Manager, Jacquline Smith, at

Youth Programs

Saturday Art Club

Saturday Art Club is a year-round arts and cultural enrichment program for youth ages 7-14. Each session offers opportunities for the youth to create hands-on art projects, view and discuss exhibitions, collaborate with peers, and gain food knowledge and cooking skills by working with a chef to prepare lunch or a snack. In the summer, youth also explore plants in the garden and harvest produce for their meals. Program enrollment is on a rolling basis with a current cap of 24-30 youth per session to maintain an intimate setting and allow for deep relationship building between youth and teaching artists.

Created to serve families in North Omaha, youth living in or attending school in the 68110, 68111, 68112, and 68104 zip codes are given priority admission. Any remaining spots in the program are open to youth in Greater Omaha who qualify for free or reduced lunch or who are from historically underrepresented backgrounds. The Union is pleased to offer Saturday Art Club at no cost for participation. Transportation is not provided at this time.

Art at Home

The Art at Home series of creative activities began early in the pandemic of 2020 as a way to stay connected with the young creatives while social distancing kept us apart. The series has now grow to include a wide variety of creative prompts + activities for artists of all ages. Activities include "Exhibition Explorations" of past collections in our Wanda D. Ewing Gallery and "Roll An Artist" prompts inspired by some of the greats of Black American art history.

Learn More
Art at home collage of 9 Black artists and musicians from a coloring book activity
Youth Open Studios

(Series currently on pause while COVID community spread remains high.)

Thursdays | Ages 5–15 | Free

6 - 8 PM | Youth are invited to The Union on Thursday evenings for self-directed studio time. Come draw, paint, read, play games, or create art inspired by the exhibitions in our gallery. Open and flexible, this program provides space for joy and creative freedom in a safe environment.

Youth Open Studios was established to reduce barriers to participation in our Thursday Co-Op workshops, creating an opportunity for young people to engage in hands-on art-making while their caregivers attend a Co-Op workshop. This program is accessible to ALL youth ages 5-15. Space is limited so please call ahead to inquire about availability. 402-933-3161 Co-Op workshop participation is not required, but workshop participants may register youth in advance.

****Open Studios Pick-Up Policy: All participating youth must be picked up and signed out at the front desk by 8pm. Only an authorized adult whose information is on file can pick-up youth and identification will be required.

Together Workshops + Virtual Creative Time

Together Workshops and Creative Time virtual workshops are designed for children and their caregivers to explore creative processes together, such as printmaking, ceramics, gardening, painting, food preservation, and more. Each month, we offer opportunities to participate in these artist-led experiences. While COVID continues to impact our community we are focusing strictly on virtual opportunities for young people and their caregivers to collaborate.

Latest Workshops
Gallery Explorations

(Series currently on pause while COVID community spread remains high.) Gallery Explorations provide opportunities for youth to engage in themes and practices inspired by the work of current exhibiting artists. These multi-part workshops are designed to allow young artists an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a variety of creative practices while thinking critically about the work of contemporary artists.

Gallery explorations
Action Brigade

Fridays | 3:30-6:30pm

Action Brigade is a visual art and civic engagement program that arms youth with tools and strategies to address things and themes in their communities. Students ages 11–17 meet with community members to learn how a topic that interests them is impacting people locally and globally, and work with teaching artists to develop creative responses. Action Brigade meets once weekly in the fall and spring. Currently in the pilot phase, enrollment for Action Brigade is not open to the general public at this time.

Action brigade
Meet Our Teaching Artists

From culinary arts to ceramics and creative movement, it's thanks to the many talents of our amazing Teaching Artists that The Union's Youth Engagement program is able to offer a broad curriculum of cultural experiences. Learn more about each of the 2020 Youth Teaching Artists at the link below!

Meet the Artists
Teaching artists
A group of toddlers listens closely to a teaching artist instructing them on finger painting

A group of young people standing around a table getting instruction on making prints from flowers from a teaching artist

A teaching artist and young girl sit at a table outdoors full of finger paints

A teaching artist helps two young girls sautee onions in a pan

A young girl standing in a garden smiles wide holding up two purple beans

A teaching artist leans over the shoulder of a young girl helping her with a weaving project

A young boy leans over a large drawing at work with a pencil

A young girl makes handmade pasta Another young girl stand still while her grandmother positions an elaborate decorative crown of flowers on her head

Four young girls stand overlook a garden of kale in the Abundance Garden

Several young people gather around a pottery wheel where a teaching artsit sits

Three young girls play a game of Freeze in the Abundance Garden

Two young girls examine small sculptures in the gallery

Two young girls smile while one draws on paper another young girl stands in the Abundance Garden with arms full of cucumbers