Monique Glover

Arts education helps students think critically, improve motor skills, express themselves creatively and build confidence. But the arts are often the first casualty when cash-strapped schools face a shortfall. New York City Public School budgets have shrunk by nearly 14% since 2007, and 2011 school budgets were cut 2%.

The Create Unity Collaborative brings together a diverse group of young professionals to provide art opportunities and mentorship to New York City youth while raising money for their schools. Public school students in grades 3-12 were asked to submit photography, painting, poetry and fashion designs to the competition. The winning students will get to display their work at a gallery event alongside work donated by professional artists. All proceeds from ticket, art and clothing sales will go to the winning students' schools for needed supplies.

Apparel designer and entrepreneur Monique Glover founded Create Unity because she believes access to the arts are important for every student's educational development. "If wonderful teachers throughout my public school years didn't take special interest and expose me to creative projects and contests, I don't think I would have been as focused or understood the strength of my talents," says the LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts and Pratt Institute graduate. "It is my responsibility now to brighten a few light bulbs in young minds."