First, and foremost, thank you for volunteering with Hilltop Artists. We are happy to welcome you to our team! This handbook provides you with a solid training foundation, which includes information concerning our mission and goals, policies, procedures, responsibilities, and general guidelines as they relate to your experience. We ask that you read this handbook carefully, and refer to it whenever questions may arise.
Hilltop Artists is an organization made up of individuals working toward the mission of using glass art to connect young people from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds to better futures. We are a community that believes in the power of volunteering to enrich the lives of our youth and the world around us. We were founded through the efforts of dedicated volunteers, and volunteers continue to play a vital role, working and collaborating alongside staff members to achieve our mission, goals, and objectives.
We believe that you, as a volunteer, are an important element in making this program successful. Volunteers provide time, knowledge, energy, and talents, each of which uniquely and significantly helps Hilltop Artists thrive and grow. You are an integral and important part of our sustainability. Simply put, we couldn’t do what we do without you.
We hope that your experience here will be positive and rewarding, and will inspire you to volunteer again and again. Thank you for sharing your time and talents with our students and staff!
Once again, welcome to the team!
Hilltop Artists’ mission: Using glass art to connect young people from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds to better futures.
To that end, our vision is that:
We exist to create opportunities for youth in Pierce County who face multiple barriers to success, such as poverty, drugs, violence, gang pressures, and/or low parental involvement, and who have joined or are nearing the ranks of those suspended, dropped out, adjudicated, or homeless. Our system-wide approach to seeking out and supporting our target students includes our relationships with parents, schools, youth advocates, service agencies, businesses, and Juvenile Court. Our work provides a critical component of our community’s effort to intervene in risk behavior among youth and to close the achievement gap for minority and low-income students.
Our program goals are for students to increase their abilities to interact positively in teams, with peers, and with teachers; to share ideas and experiences with classmates and/or trusted adults; and, while engaging in artistic expression of their feelings, thoughts, and beliefs, to explore critical issues that affect their lives.
In 1994 the Hilltop neighborhoods in Tacoma were the epicenter of violence that ultimately gained national notoriety. The solution crafted by parents, the schools, law enforcement, and community groups focused on ways to keep kids in school and provide afterschool and summer alternatives during the peak times for juvenile violence and delinquent behavior. Community leaders and artists including Dale Chihuly and Kathy Kaperick, who believed in the positive impact of arts learning and creative expression on youth, founded Hilltop Artists, which became the flagship of that community-wide effort.
A $20,000 City of Tacoma grant funded the program and Tacoma Public Schools provided facilities at Jason Lee Middle School in the heart of the Hilltop neighborhood. Students created sculptures, silk-screens, and fused glass art. In the fall, a glory hole furnace was added so students could blow glass. Dale Chihuly worked with students on drawing and painting. Students chose the heat of the furnace and the risk of glassblowing over the personal risks they were taking on the streets.
As the program attracted interest, gang members would drift in and watch. Police officers would stop by to check on the situation. The school principal was concerned about liability; parents were concerned about the number of gang kids. However, the program gained a reputation for neutrality and success with hard-to-serve youth. Hilltop Artists applied for and received nonprofit status and a governing Board of Directors was assembled.
Hilltop Artists is a completely separate, independent nonprofit. We have a Board of Directors who set policy and strategic direction and maintain fiscal accountability.
Tacoma Public Schools is one of our most important partners. They provide the in-kind donation of the two Tacoma facilities – one at Jason Lee Middle School and one at Wilson High School - and their utilities; they also contribute toward daytime operating costs at Jason Lee and permit Hilltop Artists to use their facilities to run city-wide after-school and summer school programing. At Wilson High School, we share in running a program for Career and Technical Education during the day as well as our high school level after-school program.
We now operate nine programs in three schools in the Tacoma and Franklin Pierce school districts and annually provide over 550 young people, ages 11-20, with hot glass instruction, related arts training, and adult mentors with a focus on increasing students’ academic and interpersonal success. Since 1994, our work has moved far beyond the model of “keeping kids off the streets and in school” to one that utilizes glass arts as an entry point to connect with students and address the risk factors that may otherwise prevent them from graduating, enrolling in postsecondary education, and getting jobs.
Supported by a growing body of research on the correlation between involvement in the arts and the development of critical protective factors – self-esteem, civic involvement, academic success – Hilltop Artists offers a unique model for utilizing art as a means for violence prevention and intervention and increased academic success with youth that has a proven track record and outstanding results.
We aim to create positive, long-term developmental outcomes for the youth we serve. We provide a pathway for our students to continue in our programs (for up to 8 years). A five-year review of our data indicates that as youth maintain their connection with Hilltop Artists they are more likely to graduate (96%), engage in post-secondary education (69.57%), and find employment (86.96%) or do both (52.17%).
No students are refused services based on their past behavior, grades, disabilities, or artistic talent. All of our programs are tuition-free. There is a materials fee for summer school, but scholarships are readily available so no student or family has to worry about the inability pay.
Hilltop Artists provides elective classes at Jason Lee Middle school during the school day for students in the 7th and 8th grades, and CTE (Career and Technical Education) classes during the school day at Wilson High School for students in the 11th and 12th grades. These classes are open to students enrolled in these schools.
After-school programs take place at Wilson High School and Jason Lee and Ford Middle Schools. The Tacoma programs are open to all youth enrolled in school in Pierce County. After-school sessions begin at the end of the school day and run until 4:00 at Wilson and 4:30 pm at Jason Lee and Ford.
Summer School normally runs 4-6 weeks, in two 2- or 3-week sessions that serve 120 youth from throughout the county. Each session, is held five days a week and students may choose engaging in glassblowing, flame-working (bead making), or glass fusing/mosaics.
Team Production takes place Monday through Thursday evenings, from 5pm to 8pm, during the school year. To be on Team Production, students must have experience in at least one Hilltop Artists program, complete an application/contract, and be interviewed and accepted by Hilltop Artists staff. We provide 24-30 students annually with scholarships to our Team Production program; these scholarships are reviewed monthly and are contingent upon their school attendance, grades, teamwork, and attitude. As a member of one of three teams, members of Team Production blow glass or create flameworked beads and jewelry two evenings a week and engage in commissioned work and installation work. Glass created by Team Production is also made available to the public through annual sales, special events, and auctions held by other organizations, which provides income for Hilltop Artists and helps to ensure tuition-free programs for all students. Team members also may become teaching assistants in Hilltop Artists programs, intern at the Museum of Glass and other venues, as well as become eligible for studio and art school scholarships around Washington.
Arts Connect is a community-based intervention and recidivism-prevention program created specifically for court-involved girls, ages 11-19, living in Pierce County. In 2009, as a partnership with Pierce County Juvenile Court and multiple collaborating community organizations, Arts Connect was designed in response to the need for a program that supported girls during the challenging time of court-ordered probation. While there are two additional gender-specific programs that serve court-involved girls in Pierce County, Arts Connect remains the only program that takes place at community sites rather than at Remann Hall, and is run by a community-based youth development arts organization and not the court.
Arts Connect aims to reduce the risk behaviors that lead to reoffending, increase the girls’ protective factors, develop their leadership skills, and help them become healthy contributors to the community. Staff, teaching artists, and a probation officer co-facilitate weekly classes focused on writing and hands-on art projects generated from discussions about identity, society, and healthy lifestyles.
Through the creation of hands-on art, the service-learning/philanthropy project, and the public showcase event, Arts Connect participants have the opportunity to discover new forms of self-expression, develop positive relationships with adults and peers, and give back to their community.
KIT EVANS- Executive Director
KATE ALBERT WARD- Deputy Director
KATHY ANDERSON- Outreach Manager
LAUREN APPEL- Arts Connect Program Manager
LOUISE COOPER- Grants Manager
ELLEN ARONSON- Development and Administrative Associate
JESSICA HOGAN- Production Manager & Glass Instructor
JASON MOUER- Hot Shop Manager & Glass Instructor
GREG PIERCY- Operations Manager & Glass Instructor
DONNA COSTI- Part-time, Accounting Manager
SAM SCALISE- Part-time, Team Production Bead Instructor
JAMES DOWNEY- Part-time, Team Production Assistant Instructor
DESTINY NEDROW- Part-time, Ford Middle School Bead Instructor
TRENTON QUIOCHO- Part-time, Team Production Assistant Instructor
Our dedicated volunteers play an important role in supporting our students and helping the organization build our capacity and maintain our sustainability.
Hilltop Artists volunteers serve as: members of the board; office assistants; outreach volunteers at community fairs, festivals, and other community events; glassblowers, flameworkers, and jewelry-makers in the hot shop; field trip chaperones; photographers and videographers; cashiers, receipt writers, and coordinators at special events including our annual Better Futures Luncheon, and our semi-annual glass sales.
The online volunteer application must be completed prior to a volunteer’s first shift. Hilltop Artists also requires some volunteers to be approved by Tacoma Public Schools through completing and signing a Disclosure Form authorizing Jason Lee Middle School to complete a Washington State Criminal History Background Check. If your volunteer role involves working directly with Hilltop Artists youth or if you are planning on volunteering with Hilltop Artists for at least 25 hours in a calendar year, an initial meeting will be scheduled, either in-person or by phone, to meet with a Hilltop Artists staff member to ascertain your suitability for and interest in the volunteer position.
All volunteers will receive a general introduction about the nature and purpose of Hilltop Artists, and an overview of the volunteer's work to be completed. Volunteers will receive the instruction necessary for performance of their volunteer responsibilities.
Every volunteer will have a clearly identified supervisor (staff member or volunteer leader) who will be available for consultation, support, and direction. The identified supervisor may vary depending on the specific task and the personnel available at the time.
Once a volunteer has chosen a volunteer shift, it is expected that s/he will be available at the agreed-upon time. Call the volunteer coordinator when it is necessary to be absent from, or late for, your commitment (253-571-7720).
Volunteer service is very valuable to Hilltop Artists, and we endeavor to recognize the valuable service of volunteers, both informally and formally. Exemplary volunteers will be made aware of opportunities available for expanding their volunteer participation.
All volunteers should conduct their work in a manner consistent with the Hilltop Artists mission and policies. Board members and volunteers with significant decision-making authority must comply with the Hilltop Artists conflict of interest policy.
All media contact should be arranged through Hilltop Artists staff. Please refer reporters/press to staff before engaging in conversation.
Hilltop Artists encourages the use of social media to further engage Hilltop Artists supporters, volunteers, students, parents, media, and those interested in getting involved our organization. Volunteers are encouraged to share social media content posted by Hilltop Artists on their personal Facebook page, Pinterest, Twitter, website and other media outlets. Our social media sites are governed by our mission and by good judgment and common sense, volunteers are likewise governed under this guideline.
We have an obligation to our students, parents, funders, and partners to maintain their confidentiality and respect their privacy. As you work with the staff, you might be exposed to information of a confidential nature. Such information is not to be shared with anyone else, including family, friends, or acquaintances. No one is permitted to remove or make copies of any records, reports, or documents. Hilltop Artists staff will have you sign a confidentiality agreement.
Hilltop Artists adheres to Tacoma Public Schools Drug-Free Policy, prohibiting the use, possession, concealment, delivery, or distribution of any drug or any drug-related paraphernalia (including all alcohol, marijuana and tobacco products) at any time on Jason Lee property, the Drug-Free School Zone that extends 1000 feet from the boundary of Jason Lee property, or at any off-site Hilltop Artists’ events.
Hilltop Artists recognizes that the use and distribution of controlled substances not only violates the law but poses serious health and safety risks to Hilltop Artists entire staff, volunteers, students, and visiting public. In accordance to Washington Initiative 502, Washington employers can maintain a zero-tolerance policy regarding marijuana. Hilltop Artists chooses to maintain our drug-free policy and confirms that in the workplace the federal law has supremacy over the state law. Marijuana in any form, even medical marijuana, is still unlawful to possess or consume under federal law according to the federal Controlled Substance Act.
We acknowledge that alcohol may be provided to those attending events off-site. Volunteers are not permitted to consume alcohol during or before their assigned shift.
Please refrain from using your cell phone and or/any electronic devices not necessary for your volunteer task while volunteering. Having your cell phone or iPod out when working in the hot shop can distract staff and sets a negative example for our youth.
For the best interests of building student community, it’s policy that parents don’t volunteer in the same class as their student. For example, a student may be in Monday/Wednesday Team Production, so if their parent wants to volunteer during Team Production, the parent can only volunteer in Team Production Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday. We have this policy because we want students to grow socially with their peers.
This policy can be waived on a case-by-case basis.
Youth not in Hilltop Artists programs and between 14 and 17 years of age may volunteer with an adult. Hilltop Artists staff will ask for a copy of the adult’s photo ID before the volunteer shift begins. Youth may begin volunteering without an adult at age 18 or they and their parent/guardian may sign a Youth Volunteer Waiver Form. Hilltop Artists students may volunteer without an adult.
You will be required to fill out a Tacoma Public Schools background check if your volunteer role involves working directly with Hilltop Artists youth, if you are planning on volunteering with Hilltop Artists for at least 25 hours in a calendar year, and/or if you will be handling a cash box off-site. If an issue comes up with your background check, we will consider appropriate steps on a case-by-case basis.
There is no formal dress code at Hilltop Artists. However, please keep in mind that you are working with youth and representing Hilltop Artists. Please do not wear revealing clothing or clothing with disturbing or inappropriate words or images.
If you are working in the hot shop, please wear closed-toe shoes, and cotton clothing. (Do not wear any polyester/synthetic fabrics if working with hot glass).
Hilltop Artists follows the policies and procedures for working with youth set by Tacoma Public Schools. If your volunteer position requires interacting with youth, you will receive a copy of Tacoma Public Schools Volunteer Handbook. When working in the hot shop/gallery please be aware of the language you use and the relationships you create with students. Try to limit physical contact with students as even friendly physical contact may be misinterpreted. Never go off-site alone with a student.
When volunteering please check in with the volunteer coordinator to record your hours. Even if you volunteer at the same time each week, it is important for us to have accurate documentation of your hours. This information is used for volunteer recognition, budget purposes, and program promotion. We really appreciate your help with this!
Please know that we are always open to your suggestions, concerns, and/or comments. If at any time you would like to share your thoughts regarding your experience, do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with the appropriate staff member.
During the school year the hot shop is open from 8:00am to 8:00pm. Hilltop Artists administrative offices are open from 9:00am to 5:00pm. During the summer the hot shop and administrative offices are open from 8:00am to 5:00pm.
Hilltop Artists’ main location is at Jason Lee Middle School at 602 N Sprague Street (at the intersection of 6th/Division/Sprague). We are in the back of the school, on the side of the building across from the elevated track/soccer field, near the basketball courts. You can either park on Grant Street and walk across the basketball courts, or park in the small lot off State Street and walk a short path that goes along the North side of the building toward the basketball courts. You'll see two large garage doors, and a small white door to the left of the garage doors - please enter through the white door.
You may leave a purse or bag in the administrative offices. Please do not bring any valuables, as Hilltop Artists is not responsible for any loss or damages.
Hilltop Artists provides equal volunteering opportunity for everyone regardless of age, sex, color, race, creed, national origin, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, political belief, or disability that does not prohibit performance of essential volunteer functions. All matters relating to volunteering are based upon one’s ability to perform the job, as well as one’s dedication to Hilltop Artists’ mission and needs.
Hilltop Artists prohibits verbal, physical, or visual conduct that belittles or demeans any individual or group.