The Visual Art Institute is a nonprofit after-school art program for youth ages 5-18. Established in 1978, Visual Art Institute's (VAI) mission has remained unchanged: it is to foster and develop the creative voices of youth by assisting them in exploring their imagination and artistic abilities through in-depth training, independent study, and experimentation in all aspects of visual art. VAI believes that learning art can be a powerful way to enhance all aspects of life and all areas of education. VAI's goal is to provide opportunities for students to work with a wide range of traditional art media and new technology, while teaching them to be independent and creative in their thinking. The positive peer and mentor relationships found at VAI help students develop self-confidence, collaborative learning skills, critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.