PAMM’s Brick x Brick Program Receives Nation’s Top Honor

Watch as Kerry Keeler, PAMM’s manager of outreach programs, and 17-year-old Balthazar Cordova, a student involved with PAMM’s education programs, accept the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award for the museum’s community outreach program, Brick x Brick.

The program was recognized for its effectiveness in promoting learning and life skills in young people by engaging them through creative youth development programs. The after-school program received the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the nation’s highest honor for these programs.

brick by brick award
​Balthazar Cordova and Kerry Keeler, PAMM’s Manager of Outreach Programs, in DC to accept the award

The award recognizes the country’s best creative youth development programs for using engagement in the arts and the humanities to generate a wide range of positive outcomes, such as increases in academic achievement, graduation rates, and college enrollment.

Balthazar Cordova is one of the students whose life was touched by the program. Through art education, he gained other skills, like critical thinking and problem solving tools, that fueled his passion for politics and creating change in his community. He opened himself up to new experiences, like creating public service announcements and petitions at his school to incite change – something he thought he would never be able to do prior to joining the program.

“I’m proud to represent my peers in accepting this award for PAMM,” said Cordova. “A lot of people think that arts education just prepares you to become an artist, but it doesn’t. Arts education can be applied to all different kinds of disciplines – giving the tools to kids like me to change lives and communities.”

an award ceremony

PAMM is the largest provider of art education outside of Miami-Dade County School District. Its Brick x Brick program was created to reach teens in underserved communities throughout Miami-Dade County and transform lives through art. Since its founding in 2007, the program has engaged more than 600 students with art and design learning activities to discover the power of their creativity to change their circumstances and communities.

“These 12 creative youth development programs represent the best of the best,” said Pam Breaux, president and chief executive officer of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. “They are living proof of the power of the arts and the humanities to build the skills young people need to succeed in school and in life.”


“By engaging and inspiring young people, Brick x Brick gives students not just the vision but the practical skills to apply lessons learned with arts-based learning, into their lives, families and communities,” said PAMM Director Franklin Sirmans. “Led by working artists, Brick x Brick illustrates the transformative power of the arts by facilitating engagement with diverse projects tied to connecting people with their community. Hats off to Kerry Keeler for spearheading this program’s incredible growth and impact over the last decade.”

In addition to the national recognition bestowed by receipt of the prestigious award, Brick x Brick will also receive $10,000 to support its programming and engage more young people from the community.

Launched with generous funding from the Heckscher Foundation for Children, Brick x Brick has been made possible by endowed funds granted by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to underwrite the museum’s broad portfolio of education programs, and by gifts from additional program supporters including the National Endowment for the Arts, Barr Management Ltd, Educational Foundation of America, The Prentice Foundation, Western Union, JP Morgan Chase, Nordstrom, Best Buy and Allied Universal. Together with leadership support from Miami-Dade County, these funders enable the museum to transform the lives of young people in our community through our art education programs.


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