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Publicolor is a creative solution founded by industrial designer Ruth Lande Shuman to push back at our nation's growing drop-out rate and its ramifications for the future of the American workforce.

Publicolor is a not-for-profit organization incorporated in 1996. Our mission is to use color, collaboration, design and the painting process to empower students to transform themselves, their schools, and their communities. We do this by teaching innercity students the marketable skill of commercial painting, which itself can break the cycle of poverty, then uniquely empower students to transform their own school's environment and that of nearby community sites. To date, we have transformed 77 schools and 100 community sites, impacting the daily lives of 150,000+ teachers and students. We do this through our Paint Club, COLOR Club and Next Steps programs which teach not only painting but important social skills and work habits as well as applied learning.

Publicolor transformations convey respect + caring to people all-too-accustomed to the visual indignities of poverty. Our students work alongside thousands of corporate, community and college volunteers each year, providing important exposure to positive role models and opportunities for informal mentoring.

In struggling schools the environment is often one of low expectations and incompletion. When we complete a transformation there is always a sense of accomplishment and success, which hopefully will lead to future successes.

Ruth Lande Shuman
President and Founder Publicolor

Publicolor is one of my favorite things because it allows me to meet different people around the city, and give back to my community. Publicolor is important to me because it is my second family. I look to them for support and a shoulder to cry and to lean on.

Erica Williams
Age 14
East Harlem, NY
Ruth Lande Shuman is the Founder and President of Publicolor which she guides through her hands-on role as creator, facilitator and fundraiser. Ruth Lande Shuman is passionate about color and design and the important roles both play in the quality of our daily lives.

Trained as an industrial designer with an MSID from Pratt Institute, she is convinced that no space is benign. Quite the contrary, she firmly believes that we are all deeply affected by the absence of warm rich color, and that poor design adds unnecessary stress to daily living. Her firm belief is that a simple coat of color, thoughtfully chosen and placed, can have a profound and long-lasting effect on the users of the painted space.

Having spent 17 years as an active founding board member of the Big Apple Circus, where she is a now a Trustee Emeritus, Ruth understood the important role not-for-profit organizations play in our society. Using her training in industrial design she founded Publicolor to use her talent to engage disaffected students in their education. From the outset, the centerpiece of Publicolor's work has always been a struggling, neglected public school. Our work has since branched out to include nearby neglected neighborhood facilities such as Headstart sites, local health clinics, shelters for abused women and children, and police precinct houses.

Under Ruth's aegis, Publicolor's work always involves public/private partnerships. In the schools the New York City Board of Education is our public partner through our renewed multi-year contract, and corporations represent the private sector support through their financial sponsorship and volunteer involvement.

I like being in Publicolor because it will keep me off the streets. It will also help me in the future with my success. Also, I want to learn how to cooperate with more people and how to get along with others.

Victor Liriano
Age 16

Now I am doing better in school. If we messed up painting, we have to do it over. Now while I am doing my homework and I mess up, I do it over.

Vincheskia Willoughby
Age 13


Publicolor is very energized about our growth! Beginning in the Chancellor's schools (our system's lowest performing schools) we have branched out to struggling high schools and middle schools throughout New York City. And in an effort to expand our efforts to replace barriers with bridges, we now partner the local police precinct in our school transformations, encouraging police officers to paint alongside our youngsters. And keep an eye out for Publicolor products - they're on the drawing board! Check back to see our new web site this December!