Culture Shapers was formed by Houston-area businesses and church leaders following the 1999 Columbine High School shooting. For the past seven years, visual artists from area high schools enter the annual contest to help further their dreams. Culture Shapers Operations Director Shawn Hesketh says cash prizes are given to the winners.
"It's very expensive to pursue the arts. These kids need paint brushes, canvases; they need the actual materials to develop their arts. That's what we feel we are able to do, put the tools in their hands so they can continue."
Others apply the money toward college tuition. That's the case for Josh Franer. He's now in Hollywood doing an internship with Columbia pictures and starting his own production company. Franer says Culture Shapers gave him confidence.
"It also helped me realize well OK I can kind of do film OK. It made me realize that I, not to sound cocky, have a little bit of a talent."
Culture Shapers is expanding into the performing arts as well with a monthly Young Voices of Houston, a monthly vocal competition. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.