Youth Art Exchange sparks a shared creative practice between professional artists and public high school students, furthering youth as leaders, thinkers, and artists in San Francisco.


In 2016, we embarked on our first strategic planning process since the departure of our founder in 2013, aimed at building consensus among stakeholders from the Advisory Board, Youth Advisory Board, staff, and faculty of artists on a collective vision and strategy for 2017-2023. Following a rebranding process in 2014 from Out of Site Youth Arts Center to Youth Art Exchange, the plan’s priorities emerged to reflect the new brand, mission, and values of the organization, and we have created a strategic map for 2017-2020.

Our vision areas:

  • Embody Excellence & Equity

  • Be by Artists, For Artists

  • Grow Resources

  • Improve Arts Education

  • Value Artists

  • Amplify Voices


Our values are central to our work throughout the organization and extended to our partnerships and work in the city.

  • Creativity: We foster creativity through artistic experimentation and self-expression.

  • Exchange: We inspire multi-disciplinary exchanges of creative ideas, knowledge, and resources.

  • Empowerment: We empower individual artists to thrive in a creative community.

  • Opportunity: We promote artistic growth and offer exposure through professional opportunities and experiences.   

  • Learning: We cultivate artistic practices that celebrate process as a source of learning.


Youth Art Exchange (YAX) was founded in 2000 as Out of Site Youth Arts Center by an architect, Beth Rubenstein, and a visual artist, Jennifer Stuart, in response to growing needs for arts education for public high school students. As practicing artists and educators, YAX’s founders recognized the power of arts education to open doors for young people while the opportunities for public school students were rapidly diminishing. These youth, primarily low-income students and students of color, were those that were most lacking opportunities to deeply engage with the arts. YAX was founded to fill this gap in access to the arts, which is increasingly relevant with growing disparities in the city.

With 19 years of youth-centered arts learning, our staff and faculty have expertise in program delivery that supports and enhances youth development. Our work at the intersection of arts education and youth development has expanded with the needs of our constituencies. Our numbers of arts disciplines and students citywide has grown, as well as the addition of workforce-skill based summer intensives, a summer STEM architecture-based intensive for rising 9th graders, in-school classes, annual arts education convenings, and an active Youth Advisory Board. In 2018, we launched [x]space arts hub as a new chapter in creating artistic exchange with the broader community.