Space of Her Own

Page updated on Feb 21, 2012 at 4:21 PM

Program Sponsor:

The Art League and the Alexandria Court Service Unit


This program was developed in 2002 to offer gender-specific programming designed to promote long-term mentoring relationships, art education, the acquisition of life skills, participation in meaningful community service activities, and the prevention of juvenile criminal activity.


This unique non-profit and government partnership pairs each youth with an adult female mentor. Together, they meet weekly for life skills lessons, healthy meals, and art classes taught by The Art League’s professionals. In the spring, each girl’s room is renovated using the created works of art, providing ample study space and lighting, and giving each girl “a space of her own.” The annual program runs the length of the academic year, culminates in a community art gala and video, and extends into the summer with community service projects. The success of this program is measured not only by quality of the one-year commitment made by the mentor and the youth but also by the three-year follow-up activities and supportive services provided through the middle school’s SOHO Sisterhood Club. For more information,  visit the site


5th grade girls from Mount Vernon (Del Ray) and Jefferson Houston (Old Town) Elementary Schools, as well as  6th grade girls from Hammond Middle School


The SOHO program's evaluation measures assure the program's effectiveness. The following items are measured: the duration of the mentor/mentee relationships, the quality of the mentor/mentee relationships, developmental assets (via pre- and post- tests), criminal involvement, and teen pregnancy. Since its inception, SOHO has served 117 girls, only 5 of which have subsequently become involved in the court system.

Meeting Times:

During the school year, mentors attend from 5:30-8:00 p.m. on Thursday evenings and then provide rides home for their mentees. SOHO does not meet on school holidays. Additional time is required to shop for bedroom items, complete weekend room renovations, and to participate in summer community service projects.


The program takes place at the Art League’s Duke Street Annex, located on the corner of Duke and Union Streets in Old Town Alexandria, and also at Hammond Middle School, at 4646, Seminary Road.

Ratio of Mentor(s) to Child(ren):

1 to 1

Mentor Start Date:

Mentor orientations and background checks begin in September. The program begins in October.

Mentor Training:

Initial orientation, as well as mentor-only night meetings for mentor matching and room renovation planning


No art or mentoring experience is necessary! Volunteers must be 21 years of age, successfully complete an interview and a criminal background check, and make a one-year commitment to mentoring. Access to e-mail, a current driver’s license, and reliable transportation also are required.


Contact Linda Odell via e-mail: soho@alexandriava.gov