Prince grew up in our neighborhood, just a few blocks from our campus. Urban Ventures' founder Art Erickson served as a youth pastor & mentor to Prince.
Art got to know a side of Prince that others didn't get to see.
"He was on a work crew with us up at a camp near Siren, Wisconsin, in seventh grade," Erickson said. "We were driving into town to pick up food for the camp. I said, 'Prince, What's your story?' He said, 'My mom divorced my dad, and the guy who is living with us now, locked me in my room for 6 weeks this summer.' I said, 'What did you do?' He said, 'I could go out to go to the bathroom, then the food was in there, and he'd lock the door, and I was in there for 6 weeks.' I said, 'What did you do?' He said, 'There was a piano in there. I learned to play the piano.'"
After making it big, Prince gave back to Urban Ventures. The same people that built Prince's Paisley Park came together to build a studio at our youth center.
"Prince knew that it's important to look for the abundance and potential in youth who are feeling hurt and lonely," Erickson said. "You can never know the potential of a child, like Prince, who faced adversity. Urban Ventures is there for kids like him that didn't fit in."
This studio is an important symbol in the neighborhood. Over the last decade our music program has invested in the potential of around 1,000 local youth by providing group classes, private lessons, music camps & free recording sessions.
"The studio is a safe place for kids to explore their creative potential. Music is a therapeutic outlet for dealing with trauma and stress. You just never know which one of these kids is going to grow up to be someone equally as amazing as Prince... a lot of them just need a chance, and maybe the right mentor."