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Featured Mini-Grantee | Jersey Art Exchange

2023-02-15T11:07:54-05:00February 15th, 2023|

Audiovisual Arts for Jersey City Youth

Jersey Art Exchange (JAX) is a neighborhood-based nonprofit established to address the creative, recreational, and educational needs of young people in underserved Jersey City communities. Jersey Art Exchange seeks to:  

  • Educate the next generation of artists, technologists, and digitally literate citizens.
  • Foster mentorships between youth and established community artists.

The Jersey Art Exchange afterschool programs provide safe, enriching learning environments, healthy snacks, recreational activities, and homework help to youth that live in Jersey City Housing Authority residences.


HealthierJC + Jersey Art Exchange

For Jersey Art Exchange, building a Culture of Health is about fulfilling the essential needs of children – like quality nutrition and a positive productive environment – which enable them to develop their talents, excel academically, experience teamwork, and build leadership skills.

Since founded in 2017, Jersey Art Exchange (JAX) has delivered innovative programming that is mutually beneficial to young people and the arts community.  Jersey City youth are able to develop their artistic and academic talents, and established local artists are given opportunities to display their work at sponsored art exhibitions and music performances, in and around Jersey City.

The Jersey Art Exchange program closely aligns with the HealthierJC mission to expand access to quality education, promote fellowship, and build future community leaders. In awarding the mini-grant, HealthierJC acknowledged the contribution of Jersey Art Exchange in advancing a Culture of Health in Jersey City.  



Inside the Mind of Teens

The Jersey Art Exchange (JAX) program offers Jersey City Housing Authority teens an opportunity to learn new digital art skills. Many come from low-income households in city neighborhoods that face significant problems related to crime, poverty, and underfunded schools.

With the HealthierJC mini-grant, Jersey Art Exchange worked with teens from Marion Gardens to record and edit a video about what is it like to be a teenager in Jersey City. These young people wanted to explore why people look at their neighborhood as a “bad” place to live. They wanted to stress the importance of young people having meaningful positive activities to counter economic and social adversity.  

 Jersey Art Exchange taught program participants how to record and edit video content using professional equipment. Teens also learned how to play the guitar to produce a video soundtrack, and create graphics to introduce and integrate video segments.

As a companion to the main video, there was a “behind the scenes” production, which profiled how the video was created and edited. This production captured Jersey Art Exchange teens doing day-to-day activities, like riding a bike, walking their dogs, or picking up food. It also included a group discussion where these young people explained the value of participating in the Jersey Art Exchange program, and making friends of the same age, with similar backgrounds, and a shared interest in the creative arts.


On and off camera, teens in the JAX program expressed the importance of having access to meaningful activities to engage and challenge them. As expressed In their own words…

Alaina Hannah – Freshman at HCCC (Hudson Country Community College):
“The teens at Marion Gardens, they’re people. They do whatever they can with what they have”.

Jaqual Halley – High School Senior:
“Our community is not perfect, everyone has ups and downs. It’s just that our community has more action than other communities, as I should say, gun violence, gang violence and stuff”.

Justin Forde Billy – High School Senior:
“I’d like to point out school. Many teens our age decide to either drop out, stop going, or come to school late. Sometimes they don’t show up and just be walking outside instead of just actually paying attention and focusing”.


The teens also spoke about their future lives and the future of their community. They concluded that young people that reside in Marion Gardens and other underprivileged environments need access to more positive educational experiences and collaborative social activities. In their opinion, unbridled youthful exuberance and energy without positive outlets will only lead to negative outcomes.

Most importantly, Jersey Art Exchange noticed that teens who completed the program seemed more joyful and hopeful about their future:


Jaqual Halley – High School Senior:
“After high school, I would like, or well, I am going to study early childhood development, and minor in business”.

Justin Forde Billy – High School Senior:
“Going to college, I really want to major in nursing and medicine. I hope to be successful in life and make it far”.

The final video produced by this group of students titled “Inside the Mind of Teens” can be viewed on the Jersey Art Exchange YouTube channel:


Moving Forward…

In January 2021, Jersey Art Exchange (JAX) merged with Art House Productions. Moving forward, Jersey Art Exchange seeks to maintain and broaden the scope of services they provide. By building on existing education programs offered by the Art House, JAX will be able to offer a Jersey City outreach curriculum that is more robust and progressive.

As an example, the JAX Summer Camp hopes to provide teens with a more diverse range of immersive art/music opportunities including:  

  • Jersey City Stories – Use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to develop an interactive map, highlighting areas of Jersey City’s gentrification through digital storytelling. 
  • Virtual Reality Video Production – Use of virtual reality cameras and editing software to create short creative films.
  • JAX Music Programs – Students work with highly trained professional musicians each week to learn music history and theory, while also taking one-on-one lessons on the instrument of their choosing. The summer culminates with several live student/teacher performances at the JAX space, Moore’s Jazz Lounge, the Monticello Street Festival, and Groove on Grove.
  • Imagining Jazz – Collaborating with the Riverview Jazz Organization, JAX youth learn how to interpret jazz through creative photography.
  • Re-imagining the Storefronts of Monticello – JAX media members (graphic designers, illustrators, photographers & writers) work with Youth Radio to publish an interactive media piece about gentrification in the Monticello area. 

For more information about Jersey Art Exchange, please visit the organization’s website at