The Memory Project is a nonprofit organization that invites art teachers and their students to create portraits for youth around the world who have faced substantial challenges, such as neglect, abuse, loss of parents, and extreme poverty.

We want the portraits to help the children feel valued and important, to know that many people care about their well being, and to act as meaningful pieces of personal history in the future. For the art students, we want this to be an opportunity to creatively practice kindness and global awareness.

To do this, we receive photos of children and teens from global charities operating residential homes, schools, and care centers in a number of different countries every year.

We then provide our participating art teachers with full-page color prints as well as digital copies of those photos, along with plastic sleeves to protect the finished portraits.  The art teachers then work with their students to create the portraits, and we hand-deliver them to the kids (we have several different art students create portraits for each child based on several different poses). Finally, we make a video of each delivery to share with all of the art students and teachers involved.

Since 2004 we have created more than 80,000 portraits for children in 35 countries.

To help children feel valued and important.


  • Participation is open year-round and participants usually have several months or longer to create the portraits.
  • Some art teachers sign up with just a couple students to create portraits while others sign up with dozens.
  • Most participants are high school art students, but we also have university students, middle and elementary students, and adult artists involved too.
  • Here is our 1-page set of instructions for creating the portraits, listing size, media, and other considerations.
  • Most participants create drawings or paintings, but any medium is welcome. Students of the computer arts can even print their digital work, and novice art students can create collage portraits using cut-outs from photos.

If you are interested in participating, simply contact us.

We will then ask you about your preferred time frame and how many portraits your group would like to create.  Next, we will match you with the children’s photos and send you full-page prints as well as digital copies.

For the participation fees we will just include an invoice for the total, and you or your school can send a check or use a card whenever it is most convenient for you – even later with the finished portraits.

For more information, please see the FAQs or just ask us.  We would love to hear from you!

To provide meaningful pieces of personal history.


  • Staff salaries
  • Printing and shipping
  • Delivering portraits
  • Donations to the children
  • Supplies, technology, etc

The Memory Project is a nonprofit organization, and we get virtually all of our funding by asking our U.S. participants to contribute a participation fee of $15 for each portrait.

For example, an art teacher who signs up 10 students to create portraits would contribute $150, and that $150 could come from the students themselves, a classroom budget, a booster fund, a school club, a sponsor, etc.

However, you are more than welcome to contribute the fees at the end of the process when you send us your finished portraits.  If you would like ideas for how to get funding, please see these suggestions.

Also, if none of those ideas will work for your group, then please ask us for help.  We are always more than willing to sort out funding challenges.

80,000 portraits and counting.

For art. For caring. For one humanity.

Contact Us


Ben Schumaker, Director

The Memory Project
2163 N. Gateway St.
Middleton, WI 53562


Ben founded the Memory Project as a university student in 2004 and has directed it ever since.