we foster engagement with the arts in Clarksdale, MS.

griot arts inc.

Griot Arts is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that was founded in 2011. Griot Arts currently has two programs: the Griot Youth Program, an after school arts program for middle school and high school students, and the Meraki Job Training Program, a hands on program that allows local youth ages 16-24 to be employed at Meraki Roasting Co. to learn to roast coffee while building skills that will help them come closer to finding their God-given calling.

Griot Youth Program's Mission is to create a community of students who are actively engaged in making their community a better place through the arts and community service. We do this through excellent teaching in various arts mediums, and emphasis on academics, and a thriving mentoring program.

Meraki Cooperative is a community of people and businesses organized to provide opportunities for young people to gain the skills needed to be able to sustain themselves and their families through meaningful, life-giving work.

Below are the 4 C's of Griot Arts- they are the heart of our programs and the reason why we do what we do!



In 2014 Griot Arts started a new program, created from our realization of the need to prepare young people to be able to provide for themselves and their families. Meraki provides opportunities for young people to gain the skills needed to be able to sustain themselves and their families through meaningful, life-giving work. Meraki gives real-life, hands on experience to young adults (18 to 25 year olds) and works to prepare them to be excellent employees and able to provide for themselves and contribute to their community.



Griot Arts creatively addresses the problems of the generational poverty cycle in Clarksdale and the Mississippi Delta by giving young people the resources and the empowerment they need to support themselves and their families and become responsible citizens that are able to contribute to their community.



At the Griot Youth Program, our after school arts program for teenagers, this happens through providing excellent teaching in various arts mediums, tutoring focused on life-long learning, and a thriving mentoring program with 26 adult mentors. Students at the program engage in student-led “town hall meetings” each Tuesday to discuss the issues that are going on in our community and how they can use their talents and abilities to change the things that they don’t like.



Griot Arts is grounded in the belief that God can restore all things, and wants to work with his people to do so. Changing lives and communities starts with changing hearts, and that is a job that requires Jesus to be at the center and in control. We have been incredibly blessed by what God is doing at Griot and are so thankful to know that He is in control. God is big, and we can't wait to see what big things He will continue to do here at Griot Arts!


the team


cali noland

executive director

I love seeing the beauty in each one of the young people who are involved in Griot Arts and seeing the staff and volunteers loving on them and helping them find who God truly created them to be.

Your calling is where your deep gladness and the world's great hunger meet

-Frederick Buechner


emily wisseman

griot youth program director

I love working at Griot because I get to see God moving in the lives of students and staff to bring hope and creativity to Clarksdale.

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors, through Him who loved us

-Romans 8:37


emily cooper

volunteer coordinator

Watching how the students are growing in compassion for one another and in understanding of God is really special for me.

Call to Me and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you do not know.

-Jeremiah 33:3


josue atibalentja

director of media and technology

I just enjoy spending time with the students at Griot, sharing in laughter, hardtimes, and growing together in Jesus.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts

-Isaiah 55:8-9