by Chelsea Trembly
University of the Streets (UOTS) is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1969. It is located at 130 East 7th Street, New York, NY. It was created by Real Great Society (RGS) a non-profit community development organization that was created by ex-gang members who lived on the Lower East Side (or the East Village). The aim of RGS was to help youth creatively and positively channel their energy. To further this goal, RGS formed University of the Streets. UOTS is an agency that worked and still works to provide a safe place for people of the East Village to come and be constructive.
At the very beginning, children, teenagers and young adults could show up whenever they wanted, and do whatever they wanted. (As long as it was safe and reasonable.) Programs included Karate, computer classes, and music classes. Very quickly, UOTS applied for and received federal and state funding for anti-poverty programs. They used ideas of community control to help local underemployed or unemployed residents train for and find jobs. These programs were funded through 1975. After 1975, UOTS transitioned towards the art world. While it’s goal to help foster residents of the East Village did not change, its method did. UOTS focused on jazz workshops, jazz performances, Karate, and visual art to stimulate and educate its friends and neighbors of the East Village.
To see the exhibit, go to: http://aphdigital.org/GVH/exhibits/show/uots