Make Space

Make Space pairs 14 sixth-grade girls—all of whom attend Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School—with 14 women for a year of mentorship and art-making. VisArts launched the program in the fall of 2008, then called Space of Her Own, and since then it has affected the lives of more than 200 women and girls. Make Space is an affiliate member of the Virginia Mentoring Partnership.

The big/little pairs meet on Thursday evenings from October through May and create art together in VisArts’ studios, learning leadership skills and the art of self-expression. On a rotating basis, small groups kick off their nights with “Girl Talk,” a special curriculum that helps the girls and their mentors discuss concepts relating to trust, confidence, communication and self-efficacy. The program also includes field trips to local art galleries and other cultural institutions in the greater Richmond region.

In addition to meeting with the girls, mentors also attend their own training sessions once a month throughout the year. These sessions are led by guest speakers from the Richmond Community and are designed to expand the mentorship skills of each woman.

The artwork the women and girls make together, like wheel-thrown vessels, hand-dyed curtains, lap desks and self-portraits—are saved until year’s end, when big/little pairs work together to install all of the girls’ art projects in their bedroom. Big/little pairs work together to install all of the girls’ art projects as well as assemble new furniture and clean and repurpose existing furniture. The work results in 14 colorful and inspiring rooms that give each girl a space to make her own.

Over the years, many women and girls have formed lasting relationships that extend through middle school, high school and even college. This year we are adapting our program to meet the safety needs of our mentees and our partner, Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School. These changes include requiring masking at all times, designing activities to accommodate safe social distancing and requiring staff, mentors and guest artists to be fully vaccinated.

Become a Mentor!

Each year, VisArts recruits women to serve as Make Space mentors. Mentors do not have to have previous mentorship or arts experience, just a willingness to try new things! We look for applications that show:

  • Enthusiasm for working with young people
  • Dependable with a positive attitude
  • Openness to new experiences
  • Interest in serving their community
  • This year, we are requiring mentors to be fully vaccinated in order to protect the health and safety of our mentees

Mentor Benefits: 

  • Supporting and guiding a young person 
  • Building community with other women from around the city 
  • Art-making workshops and reunions 
  • Enhanced leadership skills 
  • Trainings around relationship building, positive youth development, trauma awareness 
  • Gift certificate for a free multi-week class at Visual Arts Center  

Mentors must have the capacity to commit to:

  • Weekly classes on Thursday evenings from 3:30-6 p.m. October through May
  • Five training sessions each month during the program
  • A potential weekend day in January for home visits

Applications for mentors for the 2022-2023 program year have closed. If you’d like to learn more about the program, reach out to:

 Liana Elguero, Community Programs Manager at  

Become a Sponsor

For Make Space to be successful, VisArts needs both monetary and in-kind donations. Companies have donated everything from fabric and paint to photography supplies and bed frames. We recognize all our sponsors in Make Space’s print and web materials, and sponsors are also invited to the closing ceremony, which is held in May.

Special Thanks to Our Sponsors