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Gillette gives land to Artists for Humanity

Donates parking lot to group for teens

With 255 teen apprentices working out of its building, Artists for Humanity is at capacity. It expects to expand onto the adjacent lot.

Sarah Brezinsky for The Boston Globe/File 2003

With 255 teen apprentices working out of its building, Artists for Humanity is at capacity. It expects to expand onto the adjacent lot.

Gillette is donating a 9,000-square-foot parking lot to its Fort Point neighbor, Artists for Humanity, allowing the nonprofit to significantly expand its facility and mission of providing jobs to budding teen artists, the two organizations will announce Tuesday.

The lot sits between Gillette’s factory space and the nonprofit’s building, a sleek glass structure called the EpiCenter, on West Second Street in South Boston.

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“We’ve been nagging Gillette for a long time about that parking lot,” said Susan Rodgerson, cofounder of Artists for Humanity. “Everything comes when it’s meant to happen.”

The additional land marks another milestone in the growth of the artists group, which was founded in the South End in 1991 with just six young people.

The organization pays and trains Boston teenagers who work alongside professional artists creating sculptures, paintings, and graphic designs.

Some of their works are commissioned pieces for corporate clients; others are murals in prominent public spaces.

Gillette has been one of the group’s supporters, having artists design and create wall art and other items for the shaving company’s South Boston site.

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The group president for Gillette, Patrice Louvet, said in a statement that the company is “honored to be in a position where we can help Artists for Humanity with their expansion efforts.”

City assessments put the value of the lot at $566,000.

Last year, the teens created 688 commissioned pieces, and over time the sale of their artwork has netted Artists for Humanity more than $5 million.

But with 255 teen apprentices working out of the EpiCenter, Artists for Humanity is at capacity in its building.

It expects to expand that building onto the adjacent lot, and create an easier way to navigate through the narrow South Boston streets to its facility.

“We’re on a one-way street. It’s tricky to wind your way through Southie to get to our front door,” Rodgerson said. “This is an important position in the new neighborhood as it’s been developed.”

Rodgerson said the expanded space will also allow Artists for Humanity to nearly double the number of teens it can employ.

“I could have a lot of my friends here who don’t have jobs,” said Samuel Andre, a 17-year-old from Hyde Park who has worked at Artists for Humanity for more than a year.

Tuesday’s ceremony is also expected to include Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who in a statement applauded the land gift as a catalyst for more teen jobs, a priority of Menino’s.

“AFH gives Boston teens the opportunity to learn a craft and develop their creativity while also earning a living, reflecting the true spirit of the Innovation District.”

Gail Waterhouse can be reached at gail.waterhouse@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @gailwaterhouse.

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