Porch Light

Strengthening community wellness through public art

What is Porch Light? 

At Mural Arts, we believe that hands-on art-making provides a strong pathway for individual and community healing.

Our Porch Light program, a joint collaboration with the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, focuses on achieving universal health and wellness among Philadelphians, especially those dealing with mental health issues or trauma. We do this by providing opportunities to contribute to meaningful works of public art.

Sanctuary © 2016 Mural Arts Philadelphia / James Burns. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Porch Light projects are driven by issues that have tangible effects on local communities, such as mental health, substance use, spirituality, homelessness, trauma, immigration, war, and neighborhood safety. The targeted outcomes of any Porch Light project include:

  • improvements to the physical environment
  • new opportunities for social connections
  • positive changes within a community, such as enhanced unity and empathy among neighbors

An ongoing list of brilliant murals and transformed public spaces throughout Philadelphia are the final products of year-round Porch Light workshops, community meetings, health forums, and paint days. A finished Porch Light artwork shines a light on the people who helped bring the project to life and challenges social stigmas around mental and behavioral health, offering a fresh window of opportunity for continued progress and community growth.

Colorful Legacy by Willis "Nomo" Humphrey & Keir Johnston. Photo by Steve Weinik

How do we measure the impact of Porch Light? 

The Yale School of Medicine conducted rigorous, community-based research in three Porch Light communities to assess the program’s impact on individual and community-level health outcomes. Read more about the study and its findings HERE.

What is the future of Porch Light? Can the program work in any city? 

National foundations, health leaders, and universities from all over the country look to Mural Arts’ Porch Light program as an example of progressive public health promotion. With generous support from our sponsors, we are honing the Porch Light methodology and striving to create a national model for an innovative approach to promoting healthy communities.

Download the Porch Light Manual to read an overview of the program model and learn how to replicate it in your city.

Become a Partner 

Site Partner Application (PDF)

If I sit painting, it gives me the self-control over who I am. Everybody has their downfall, but right now everyone around this table has the courage and motivation to heal.

Adam Alli, Assistant Artist and former Porch Light program participant Adam's Story
30

completed murals

374

program participants over two years

3,000+

community members have engaged in the work

Current Partners (as of Summer 2017) 

  • Veterans Empowerment Center
  • New Kensington Community Development Corporation
  • Impact Services, Incorporated
  • Prevention Point Philadelphia
  • The Kirkbride Center
  • North Philadelphia Health Systems
  • Children’s Crisis Treatment Center
Porch Light Partners, Current and Past (PDF)

How can I learn more? 

For more information on Porch Light or any individual Porch Light project, please contact program director Laure Biron at laure.biron@muralarts.org or 215-685-0739.