Youth Arts Empowerment Zone Liaison

Youth Arts Empowerment Zone

The Youth Arts Empowerment Zone (YAEZ) along Main Street in Poughkeepsie, NY  is a long-term initiative to establish a youth-led arts district with The Art Effect as the anchor arts institution. This initiative is a roadmap for place-keeping through the arts. Currently, the YAEZ is bringing arts-based engagement to the local community through the PKX festival, publics events, workforce development programs, and community workshops.

YAEZ Liaison

YAEZ Liaisons are part of The Art Effect’s curatorial training programs at the Trolley Barn Gallery. YAEZ Liaisons focus on the impact of the community in and around the Trolley Barn Gallery. Each year, youth plan and implement community events, including workshops, art activities, and an annual arts festival. Youth employees earn a stipend as they learn the tactics of creative placemaking, marketing, outreach, event planning, and more. YAEZ Liaisons are equipped with skills in community organizing, festival planning, civic engagement, and arts-advocacy through leading outreach workshops with local artists and community organizations and conducting presentations to stakeholders and government officials.

Become a YAEZ Liaison

Youth ages 15+ interested in becoming a YAEZ Liaison can apply online. Sessions run in the Spring (February -June) and Fall (September – December). Application periods for each session open in November (for the Spring) and June (for the Fall). Applications are accepted in May for a limited number of full-time summer positions (in which youth can earn minimum wage).The group meets weekly in two hour research and mentoring sessions in the spring and fall. Members also lead monthly community outreach activities and attend a variety of public meetings as both presenters and participants. Click HERE to see upcoming events.

Summer Employment

During the summer,  youth work full-time between both of The Art Effect’s curatorial training programs (Trolley Barn Curatorial Team & YAEZ Liaisons) at the Trolley Barn Gallery. Youth make high-level exhibition curation decisions about upcoming juried exhibitions while being mentored by experts in the field, and work within the community to foster the youth-led arts district along Main Street, YAEZ.


PKX Youth Committee works with community partners, and the curatorial advisory committee across the county including; 

Program Staff

Jaime Ransome, Trolley Barn Gallery Manager was born and raised in Rhinebeck NY and graduated from Syracuse University in May of 2022 after receiving her MFA in Museum Studies and her BFA in Film. She specializes in feminist and BIPOC art history and film theory. She attended Children’s Media Project (The Art Effect’s former Spark Studios program) and is now happy to be returning to Poughkeepsie to pass on her knowledge to The Art Effect Youth.

Destiny Kearney, Trolley Barn Fellow is a New York based artist who graduated from Bowdoin College, with a Bachelor of Arts in Africana Studies, Art History, and Visual Arts. After entering her first technical art classes during her sophomore year of college, she encountered a teaching style that excluded Black people. The gap in her artistic training led her to pursue the study of race in arts education. During Kearney’s time within Bowdoin’s Visual Arts program, she continued to learn from and rebel against that pedagogy. Taking the skills she acquired through self-teaching she continues to focus on depictions of Blackness in art. Over the past year, Kearney has used painting, photography, and collage to explore her Black and Indigenous identity, with a focus on land, lineage, and language. Her works address the hypervisibility, visibility, and invisibility of her racial and cultural identities. Bowdoin College Awarded her with The Richard P. Martel Jr. Memorial Prize in Visual Arts which is awarded to the students who, in the judgment of the Visual Arts Faculty at Bowdoin are deemed to have produced the most creative, perceptive, proficient, and visually appealing art works exhibited at the college during this academic year. Embarking on her post-grad journey, Kearney joins the Art Effect team as the Trolley Barn Fellow. She will be with us for the next two years as a member of the first cohort of Lead for Poughkeepsie Fellows, a branch of the Lead for America program.

Media/Arts/Design Lab (MADLab)

madlab artists

The Art Effect’s Media, Art, and Design Lab (MADLab) engages teens ages 14-19 from the City of Poughkeepsie and helps them develop life and workforce skills in the growing arts and media sectors. Through four after-school sessions and one full-time summer session, MADLab youth earn a wage or stipend as they gain competency while learning about visual art, media art, and design careers. Through youth mentorship, on-the-job learning, and access to materials and equipment, MADLab fosters youth development, facilitates academic and workplace performance, and is a catalyst for community engagement and urban renewal in the City of Poughkeepsie.


Each MADLab session exposes students interested in visual art, creative placemaking, public art, media and design, and more to the creative workforce process by producing collaborative visual arts projects, and learning workplace skills such as time management, team work, leadership, and communication. The summer program has a special focus on public art and creative placemaking in which youth design and produce a public art installation in downtown Poughkeepsie.

  • graphic design
  • painting
  • sculpture
  • digital painting
  • photography (see also; Spark Studios)
  • public speaking
  • leadership
  • workplace etiquette
  • presenting and critiquing

Students work both independently and in teams on various creative prompts to get the most out of this “earn while you learn” mentorship program. Every semester students work on one client project to develop a professional creative portfolio including logo development, resume writing, and graphic design. MADLab youth who have developed advanced skills, are supported in connecting to outside jobs and internships with businesses and organizations to help provide additional early job experiences in our community.

Support MADLab youth and contact us to hire a student for your design project today!

Field Trips and Partners

The MADLab Program often takes hands-on learning on the road! Through the MADLab program, students work on various projects with and for many local community partners including visiting local galleries, museums and community organizations throughout the year. Trips include; Storm King Art Center, Art Omi, and Bard College. MADLab students have partnered with a number of community organizations including:

Teachers and Program Staff

David Wong is a graduate of the arts management program at SUNY Purchase with a degree in commercial art from SUNY Dutchess. David’s background in contemporary sculpture includes working in fine art institutions such as Dia: Beacon and Storm King Art Center. David has been an art department intern for both feature films and music videos, and his work as an educator specializes in creative placemaking. David began with The Art Effect’s as an intern in 2016 working for the 21st Century Project (later called The Empire Program). He has also worked with Spark Studios and ArtsBridge and has coordinated the MADLab program since 2018.

Programs provided by this agency are partially funded by monies received from Dutchess County, New York State Council on the Arts, in part by the Bailey Foundation, Community Foundations Hudson Valley, Dutchess County Workforce Investment Board (DCWIB), the City of Poughkeepsie, and from Adams Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee supporting The Art Effect’s exemplary programs.