.College of Marin Takes In Homeless Youth Mural Project

For the last eight years, an inspiring art mural project created by Ambassadors of Hope and Opportunity (AHO) has traveled throughout the Bay Area in schools, colleges, museums, businesses, organizations and faith communities.

Now that project finds a permanent home at College of Marin’s Kentfield campus. Created by the AHO’s Youth Leadership Team, the “Youth Homelessness to Hope Singing Tree” mural project features several large-scale panels representing a season, with the endangered oak tree serving as a metaphor for the kinds of crises facing the endangered youth that AHO serves.

Founded 18 years ago, AHO is an award-winning, nonprofit organization focused on serving non-system, at-risk, homeless, and sex-trafficked young people ranging in age from 16 to 25.

In 2012, AHO’s Youth Leadership Team engaged 30 schools and 1,200 other youth to create the murals with them to answer the driving question: What kind of world do youth want to live in? The murals include the themes of social justice, Black Lives Matter, climate change and also highlight visionaries the artists producing the murals felt embodied the values they want to see more of in the world.

With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the art installation postponed its future touring schedule indefinitely. Ever resourceful, the AHO Youth Leadership Team decided it was time to find a permanent home for their project. The team selected College of Marin because of the alignment between the College’s values and AHO’s mission; both focusing on community partnerships, diversity, equity, inclusion and education.

“The Youth Team wanted to leave a legacy of AHO with COM as a permanent home for the murals because of our shared values,” AHO Founder and Executive Director Zara Babitzke, M.A., says in a statement. “AHO is transforming lives and building youth leaders and demonstrating the power of youth to transform their circumstances to become future leaders which is demonstrated in this mural project. College of Marin, named the number one community college in the state of California, like AHO, is also a life-changing institution.”

The Youth Homelessness to Hope Singing Tree murals are on display in the lower atrium of the College’s Academic Center at the Kentfield Campus.

“I am confident that our students will be inspired by the colorful, rich imagery reflected in the murals,” COM Superintendent/President Dr. David Wain Coon says in a statement. “College of Marin values its long-standing partnership with Ambassadors of Hope and Opportunity and applauds its work on behalf of homeless teens and young adults.”

College of Marin’s Kentfield campus is located at 835 College Avenue, Kentfield. Find out more about Ambassadors of Hope and Opportunity at ahoproject.org.

Charlie Swanson
Charlie Swanson is a North Bay native and an arts and music writer and editor who has covered the local scene since 2014.
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