To challenge hearts and minds through the arts



URU was founded in 1995 by a group of artists from New Haven, Conn. and New York City, who collectively wanted to give something back to their communities. Led by Crystal R. Emery, this collaboration morphed into URU, The Right To Be, Inc.

URU’s work is based upon the belief that art is a powerful source of expression and self-empowerment fundamental to the individual human spirit, as well as to the functioning of a civil society; one that can define and transform civilizations and individuals. Our motto, “To challenge hearts and minds through the arts,” reflects our strong belief in inclusion, education, quality, enlightenment, enjoyment, civic responsibility, personal growth and self-empowerment through the arts.

Since its inception, URU has touched and inspired audiences in excess of 12 million people across the United States and the world and has enriched the lives of more than 100,000 children. The key to URU’s success is its unique wellspring of national and local relationships – built over the course of 20 years and within more than 75 communities – dedicated to collaboratively producing powerful, engaging programming. URU brings together diverse groups of community members, supplies customized tools and employs proven strategies and techniques to effect powerful, tangible and profound change.

URU’s span of influence continues to grow. URU’s award-winning documentary film has been chosen by the American Film Showcase project, in conjunction with the U.S. State Department, and was shown in the U.S Embassies in Ethiopia in February 2018 and Germany in March 2018. This accomplishment is positioning URU and its innovative programs to reach global audiences, underscoring our goal of bringing this initiative to audiences around the corner, across the country and throughout the world.

URU has a broad range of programming beyond film. Whether it is “Mi Casa Es Su Casa,” an artistic exploration of the music of the Puerto Rican countryside; the interactive children’s environmental project, “This is where I Live: Don’t Dump on Me”; or educational outreach initiative, Changing the Face of STEM, all our work is based on making our society more inclusive and our workforce more equitable and representative of our fellow citizens.

We encourage and inspire our participants by providing “road maps” to help them step beyond the limited perspectives they sometimes place upon themselves toward an understanding that all parts of our society are connected within an interdependent “ecosystem” that needs balance and inclusion to achieve its full potential. That means that our actions – as both individuals and groups – affect other individuals and groups and, ultimately, the total sum of who and what we are as a civil, humane society. We fervently believe, as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King often said so eloquently, “Injustice anywhere affects justice everywhere.”

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