The mission of L.I.F.E. Arts Inc. (L.I.F.E.) is to provide leadership development experiences and opportunities for urban youth pursuing the arts. Founded and led by international recording artist and community leader, Brian Owens, the goal of L.I.F.E. is to mentor and develop the next generation of leaders and innovators.
Through its creative music programs, L.I.F.E. provides artistic resources, opportunities, positive experiences, and mentoring to help students develop the qualities and skills they need to live up to their full potential. In so doing, L.I.F.E. will develop the next generation of community leaders, one student at a time, who can take what they’ve learned to initiate future change within and beyond their own neighborhoods.
The Ferguson and St. Louis, Missouri metropolitan areas exhibit a diverse spread of social, cultural, political, religious and economic characteristics. Findings from several wide-ranging studies of social and economic conditions in this area have shown significant differences in the racial and economic characteristics within neighborhoods. Out of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States, St. Louis is the 5th most racially segregated. (Ferguson Commission, 2015). Disparities in unemployment rates, median household incomes and economic opportunities have helped create levels of social unrest and despair in many neighborhoods. Marginalized youth, in particular, face a heightened risk of experiencing isolation and powerlessness in the face of significant social and economic barriers. L.I.F.E. offers programs for students in junior high school through college, with a particular focus on underserved and at-risk children in the Ferguson and St. Louis, Missouri metropolitan areas. These programs use music in different ways, depending on the goals and objectives of each project.
For the past several years, Sterling Bank has provided financial backing for Owens pilot programs due to a shared commitment to community, faith and neighborhood enrichment. This partnership, called the Sterling Bank for L.I.F.E. Community Partnership, is committed to enriching the lives of St. Louis area youth through music, art and technology. Due to the tremendous success of these programs, Sterling Bank is expected to be one of several L.I.F.E. Arts, Inc. partners and contributors in future years.