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blog:Developing the Next Generation of Talent with CultureWorks

Developing the Next Generation of Talent with CultureWorks

Our local communities are important to us; they’re at the heart of everything we do. We make it our personal responsibility to be a viable and responsible member of each of our local communities. With an office in Grand Rapids, Michigan for over a decade, our roots are deeply embedded in the Western Michigan community. For that reason, we’re thrilled to work with these local communities and invest in the development of local talent.

One such community-building initiative is our sponsorship of CultureWorks, a Holland-based nonprofit that provides culturally relevant, transformational art and design experiences to individuals from all backgrounds.

Aside from providing funding for the organization, our VP of User Experience, Brad Ruiter, and UX Architect, Matt Kortering, serve as the CultureWorks Board Chair and a Board Member, respectively.

“Supporting an organization such as CultureWorks benefits Universal Mind in a myriad of ways,” explains Ruiter. “It speaks to our commitment to providing the next generation of designers with opportunities to further their skills. This partnership also underscores our commitment to the communities in which we live and serve as CultureWorks understands the transformative nature of the arts and their innate ability to open up a world where anything is possible.”

Founded in 2011, CultureWorks serves youths from all socioeconomic backgrounds, but the organization was initially born to address the gap in community and arts-based resources for those coming from low-income backgrounds.

“The benefits of an arts education,” says Karyl Morin, Executive Director of CultureWorks, “cannot be overstated. The arts have been proven to level the playing field across socio-economic boundaries and improves student retention, reduces the achievement gap, and nurtures the imagination, fostering a sense of hope and inclusion and contribution. CultureWorks strives to provide arts education to all, but especially to those whose backgrounds can limit their access to such opportunities.”

Holland-area high schoolers and middle schoolers can enroll in courses ranging from “Digital Connection” to “I Spy Design,” through CultureWorks, all tailored to further increasing arts skills. More than that is imparted through these courses. “I recently learned,” says Kortering, whom prior to serving on the CultureWorks Board taught courses through the organization, “that a former student of mine, one who may not have had access to arts education, took the skills he learned in class and created an app and has plans to soon sell it. This was possible through the knowledge shared at CultureWorks. The plan is for him to take his earnings and deposit it all in a college savings account. His dedication to learning and pursuit of the skills revealed through CultureWorks programming serves as the ideal example of all we hope to accomplish.”

Aside from sponsors such as Universal Mind, CultureWorks is funded through grants and individual contributions. Annual fundraising activities are crucial to CultureWorks sustainability. “Without the sponsorships of organizations such as Universal Mind,” says Morin, “and without the generosity of our other contributors, we would not be able to provide the transformative opportunities needed and appreciated by so many in our community.”

Sponsorship of CultureWorks reinforces our commitment to creating digital connections that redefine futures and embodies the profound partnerships that empowers outstanding performance in all endeavors. “Our relationship and support of CultureWorks,” explains Ruiter, “is summed up in the core tenets of Universal Mind: we’re committed to understanding, envisioning and creating impactful solutions; finding, supporting and growing the best talent and continually crafting our future.”