Talent is universal, opportunity is not. Liz Powers was a Harvard-educated art therapist in homeless shelters when she encountered incredible talent. There was no marketplace for art, so she created ArtLifting, a social enterprise that connects artists who are homeless or have disabilities with customers.
“When I was a social worker, my clients told me ‘I want an opportunity, not a handout,'” says Liz Powers, ArtLifting co-founder and Chief Happiness Officer. “ArtLifting is about creating opportunity, empowerment, and validation.”
“Art has been a positive focus for me. It is a way I can communicate with others. My art does not project me as someone with mental illness or homelessness, but as a person who wants to share joy and beauty with others,” says Jeffrey Mayo, an artist who became homeless after surgery left him unable to work.
Since starting the company with $4,000 in savings, ArtLifting artists have collectively earned over $1.3 million. This money has helped artists maintain housing and pay for medical supplies.
“I’ve seen artists secure housing, gain confidence, and overcome obstacles through the celebration and sale of their art. My goal is to make their invisible talents visible and change stereotypes,” Liz explains.
As companies embrace social change, many strive to “make their values visible” as a means to engage employees and customers. Art from ArtLifting artists adorn the walls of tech giants like Amazon and Google and have been featured in major retailers such as Starbucks.
- ArtLifting was founded in 2013 by siblings Liz and Spencer Powers.
- Artists earn 55% of the sale of their artwork, and 1% goes toward strengthening art services for community partners.
- ArtLifting and Liz Powers have won more than 20 awards, including recent listing in the Meaningful Business 100 and Forbes “30 Under 30.”