Rightside Shirts Raises Money, Awareness
Published: Thursday, January 17, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 17, 2013 00:01
Last spring, recent Boston College graduates Dylan Enright, BC ’12, and Jeff White, BC ’12, started a non-profit company called Rightside Shirts.
Rightside Shirts is a t-shirt company whose goal is to raise money for youth arts education in public schools by selling shirts designed by elementary and middle school students.
Both Enright and White flourished during their time at BC. White was an economics and finance double major, while Enright was an economics and environmental studies double major.
Despite their success, both students turned down conventional and lucrative job offers at high-powered firms after graduation to follow a dream.
“I was really committed to making a bunch of money and being an investment banker,” White said. “But after an internship at a big investment bank in New York, I realized that I hated it—I was working all the time, didn’t feel like I was making a big impact on anything at all, and most importantly, I wasn’t being creative.”
During their senior year, cold feet combined with an art history course on German expressionism led White and Enright to seriously reconsider their post-graduation plans.
“I took this class our senior year called ‘Rebels and Revolutionaries: German Expressionism in the 20th Century,’” White said. “The main theme of the expressionism is basically to release all of your inhibitions and channel a child’s creative energy in your work. Learning these things really imprinted in my mind that the big artists were really just trying to paint like kids.”
When spring semester came around, Enright and White decided to test out their idea. The two talked with the Edison School, a Boston public school near BC, and arranged for every child to be given a piece of paper on which to draw whatever he or she wanted. Enright and White then selected two designs and printed them on 72 t-shirts.
The response was overwhelming. Within two days, every single shirt had been sold.
“We really believed in this idea,” White said. “We felt like we were doing a good thing.”
That same semester, Rightside Shirts was born. The company’s primary goal is to fund art programs at all schools that do not have them.
White laments that arts education and the importance of creativity among children gets overlooked by schools too frequently—art is often the first program to be eliminated when a school needs to crunch its budget.
“We talk about how math and science are critically important to a child’s education—but there’s no reason why they should consistently be all the way at the top of the funding list,” White said. “Cultivating creativity is important, and art should be at least on an equal playing field as math and science.”
The company has printed nine student designs on 11 different t-shirts. All the t-shirts are available for purchase on the company’s website, http://www.rightsideshirts.org.
One hundred percent of Rightside Shirt’s profits go directly back into the schools it partners with in order to fund art education.
This past year, with the funds raised from the student-designed t-shirts, Rightside Shirts has placed 17 volunteer art teachers at seven different schools in the Boston area. The volunteers teach 15 art classes either weekly or biweekly.
“We basically sit down with the administration and have a conversation about what the most effective use of funds would be for that specific school,” White said.
Usually the funds go toward art supplies like colored pencils, crayons and paints for the volunteers, but White stresses that the funding is for any creative endeavor—not just visual art classes.
“At the James Otis Elementary School, we raised funds for their annual spring musical, while at the Cambrigdeport Elementary School, all the funds went toward their all-student art show,” he said.
Despite initial fears, Enright and White have been met with little resistance as they have expanded Rightside Shirts from the pilot program at the Edison School to the seven flourishing programs around Boston.
White admits that the hardest part of the process is making initial contact with the school. However, once established, it has a 100 percent success rate.
“It’s simple—all we really ask of administrators and teachers is to give their students time to create a design—they just need to hand of a piece of paper,” White said. “Once we have the designs, we can make the t-shirts and begin funding art programs at the school.”
BC students who are looking to get involved in Rightside Shirts should contact White or Enright at email@example.com.