The First Lady of Pennsylvania Susan Corbett visited Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild. The visit highlighted the positive role art education can have on Pennsylvania’s economy as well as how the educational model is scalable to other locations.

MCG, established in 1968 to serve inner city youth, now boasts an enrollment of approximately 500 students in its after school arts program.

FIRST LADY—Pa. First lady Susan Corbett talks to Sr. VP and COO Paulo Nzambi, while Founder and CEO Bill Strickland looks on. (Photos by Gail Manker)

According to MCG’s 2011 survey of seniors who attended the program at some point in their high school career, 98 percent graduated from high school on time and, of those graduates, 91 percent plan on pursuing higher education in Pennsylvania. The graduation rate of students who attend MCG is well above the national average of 75.5 percent.

The type of programming MCG offers dovetails with Corbett’s Opening Doors initiative, which aims to keep students in school until graduation.

Opening Doors focuses on identifying students in middle school who are at risk of not graduating from high school and matching them with resources that will keep them on track to graduate.

“We are excited to welcome Susan Corbett to MCG,” says Bill Strickland, CEO and founder of MCG and its parent company, the non-profit Manchester Bidwell Corporation (MBC).

“She will see our solution in action, talk to current students and our alumni. She will experience the educational environment we create here. It is this program, along with the adult career training sister program Bidwell Training Center, that has gained recognition throughout Pennsylvania, the nation and the world. Both Brockway and Sharon, Pa., are working with us to create centers based on our model, a model we have already replicated across the nation and that we believe works for rural as well as urban populations.”

“Our youth arts program is a tested solution to part of Pennsylvania’s educational crisis. Each year for more than 40 years, we reach hundreds of students, mostly from at-risk and underserved populations, using art as an engagement technique. We provide them with a safe, encouraging, respectful environment and energetic teacher/mentors. At a cost of between $2,000 and $2,500 per student per year, we are on par with top notch after school programs and our results—the lives positively changed and the successful, tax-paying citizens we help shape—provide continuing benefits for Pennsylvania and the nation,” said Paulo Nzambi, COO of MBC.

For more information about Manchester Bidwell Corporation, go to­chester­ and for more information about Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, go to http://www.mcg­youth­

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