Based on the fervent belief that art-making is transformative and healing, Lynne Green founded Van Go Mobile Arts in 1997 with a donated Checker limousine and a $2,000 grant from the Kansas Arts Commission. Lynne drove the Checker limo to area elementary schools and the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority, bringing art and inspiration to youth. Growing demand for the program prompted the organization to rent a space accessible to the youth being served in the East Lawrence neighborhood at 7th and New Jersey streets—a space that soon became a permanent home.
Van Go quickly began to receive national recognition for its impact on the lives of Douglas County youth. In 2006, Van Go was invited to the White House to receive the Coming Up Taller Award, the first Kansas organization to be recognized with this prestigious honor. Since then, Van Go has received the Kansas Governor’s Art Award (2008), KU’s Community Collaboration Award (2013), and in 2016 was recognized for its important work by a visit from National Endowment for the Arts chair, Jane Chu.
What began nearly 25 years ago as a mobile arts outreach has blossomed into what Van Go, Inc. is today: a nationally recognized, arts-based employment program for teens and young adults ages 14 – 24. Van Go has become a fixture in the social service landscape of Lawrence and receives federal WIOA support for its job training program. Using art as the vehicle for self-expression, self-confidence and hope for the future, Van Go empowers young people to create their own vision of success. The organization’s home at 715 New Jersey Street is now an anchor in the up-and-coming Warehouse Arts District. Van Go continues to provide young people the opportunity to make public works of art—giving them a unique opportunity to succeed and connect to their community.
Van Go Timeline
1997Van Go founded with a $2000 Kansas Arts Commission Grant
1999Van Go rents 3,500 sq ft space at 715 New Jersey St.
1999Van Go establishes JAMS, an arts-based job-training program for 14-18 year old teens
2000First Adornment show; Benchmark begins
2004First What Floats Your Boat fundraising event
2005Van Go wins the prestigious national Coming Up Taller award and visits the White House
2008Van Go wins Kansas Governor’s Arts Award
2009Completion and dedication of 12,000 sq ft expanded facility by Rockhill & Associates
2010The Arts Train program for 18-24 year old youth is officially launched
2011Launch of Go Healthy initiative
2012Van Go celebrates 15 year anniversary; first Culinary Hearts fundraising event
2016The Big Picture Endowment Campaign launches with construction of tile wall
2017Van Go celebrates 20 year anniversary; first Dinner on the Curve fundraising event
2020Van Go launches online store; launch of Pre Employment Preparation Program (PEPP) for 14-15 year old teens
2021First in-person May Day Hey Day fundraising event
2022Van Go celebrates 25 year annivesary
Our Core Values
Social Injustice and Systemic Racism Must End.
Van Go Stands in Solidarity with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).
Van Go, Inc. was founded on the tenets of inclusion, empowerment, and respect in an effort to eliminate barriers, close achievement gaps, and cultivate opportunities for youth in Douglas County. For 24 years, Van Go has worked to help young people find their voice using art as a vehicle.
We stand together with our BIPOC participants, employees, volunteers, board members, supporters and community in opposition to any forces that degrade the inherent value of each individual regardless of their race, ability, age, religion or sexual identity.
In a passionate call to action from one of our youth,
“Van Go can rise even further in their mission of social service and art expression by using the art that we apprentice artists create as a vehicle for racial justice and art activism, including continued and loud support for our Black brothers and sisters.”
The staff and board at Van Go could not agree more and accept this challenge. We hear you and acknowledge that we have more work to do toward this shared goal.
We will use our platform to intensify the powerful voices of our young people, as well as the voices of all who are systematically oppressed and excluded.
We will continue to listen, serve, and collaborate with intention in all facets of our critical work with Douglas County youth.
Van Go stands firm in our commitment to foster understanding, empathy and kindness because we seek the strength and stability that is brought to communities by inclusion and diversity.
We can, must, and will do more.