As part of our support of organizations and institutions invested in the legacy of Mel and Leta Ramos — and their vision of a world rich with arts education for all — the Foundation will be partnering with the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento to create arts education programming by seeding a virtual Art Education Center. As the birthplace of the Ramos family, Sacramento and its flagship arts center, the Crocker Museum, hosted the 2012 career retrospective of Mel’s work. Ten years after that landmark event, the museum will once again honor the Ramos legacy through our joint project to create online resources and teaching tools for arts educators and learners. 


Additionally, in keeping with our intention to work in support of arts education for historically under-represented artists, we recently joined a national consortium to help build capacity to host and support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Interns and Fellows as part of the Aspen Institute’s Artist-Endowed Foundations Initiative (AEFI).  This Initiative, in keeping with the aims of our mission, joins us with other like-minded artist foundations around the country to seed and grow opportunities for BIPOC students interested in careers in the arts.

Stay tuned for future updates and opportunities to learn how you can support these important projects that will serve thousands of youth over time! 

Southern Exposure’s Mission Girls Rock It! 

A Ramos Foundation 2020 mini-grant helped to fund several stipends for girls and female-identified youth to participate in SoEx’s long-term and ongoing partnership with Mission Girls, as part of its Community Arts Internship Programs. Approximately 15 youth participated in last year’s program. The Teaching Artist for the project, Paz Zamora, taught multimedia sculpture and collage focused on empowering self-identity and feminist practice to inspire “art as activism.” Artwork from the current cohort of Mission Girls will be on exhibit at SoEx opening on December 14th. Here is a sample of the program’s success:

Taken from End-Of-Year Appeal Letter as approved by SoEx

Relatives With Roots – Arts & Education in the Natural World

Over the summer months of 2021, the Mel and Leta Ramos Family Foundation was happy to help support the activities of the Ojai Valley Green Coalition (OVGC) and its special arts education program for youth, Relatives With Roots. The program was designed by artists and educators and took place in the beautiful open space of Cluff Vista Park in downtown Ojai, California. The Foundation’s contribution supported the purchase of art kits for children ages 8-11 to work in small groups with experienced educators, healers and artists, including renowned ethnobotanist Lanny Kaufer, art instructor, Pacha Maia, and Barbareño/Ventura Chumash elder and educator, Julie Tumamait-Stenslie. Each art kit included a spiral-bound Field Journal consisting of fifteen pages of watercolor paper and fifteen pages of sketch paper, drawing pencils, a pencil sharpenereraser, and a portable Field Sketch watercolor palette with a refillable water brush for each child to keep. The community leaders and teaching artists for each session facilitated observational drawing, painting and sculpting of the natural world. By engaging youth with the forms and contexts of plants and plant-based knowledge through art, we teach them (by doing) that plant life, the climate, and their own creative expressions are not separate from the world around them. In these ways, arts education takes on qualities of curiosity and caring in relation to all living things.

All images used with permission of OVGC. (C) 2021.

Centre Picasso d’Horta

The Foundation is honored to be recognized by the Centre Picasso Museo in Horta de Sant Joan, Spain for our donation to the museum and education center. A colorful plaque announcing the Mel & Leta Ramos Family Foundation’s contribution was installed on the entrance wall, cementing our commitment to my parents’ dedication of giving locally, as Horta was their home and studio for the summer months since 1972. Leta would invite the local children into her studio and create art projects from recycled objects she collected in her daily activities. Castles were made from paper towel rolls, plastic yogurt cups, decorative foil saved from candy wrappers. Mel and Leta had an open- door policy for the studio in Horta and welcomed artists and visitors to breathe in the creative air which inspired not just my parents and their Bay Area artist friends, but lured Pablo Picasso as well. In Mel and Leta’s spirit of sharing and welcoming, the Foundation will continue to support the local youth and artists with annual donations of art supplies.

Founder/CEO Rochelle Leininger (left) with Museo Director Joaquim Ferràs (right)