Student group aims to beautify campus, neighborhoods

YSUscape mural

A mural on a former retail store across from Cafaro House residence hall is the first major project for a new student group called YSUscape.

YSUscape, a new student organization that promotes the beautification of the YSU campus and surrounding neighborhoods, has completed its first major project – a mural that celebrates Youngstown.

Formed by YSU students in conjunction with Youngstown Cityscape, YSUscape painted its first mural on the side of a former retail store on Elm Street, directly across from the Cafaro House residence hall and The Flats at Wick apartments.

“We want to see YSU students take pride in their city and really become invested in the area,” group member Anthony Marchionda said.

The mural was designed by group members, working with several YSU art students, and was painted over the course of several months. It was unveiled last month at a tailgating party.

The mural reflects the group’s optimism, displaying silhouettes of familiar Youngstown buildings behind the recognizable white penguin from the Penguin Parade public arts project. The mural also features the red Mahoning Avenue bridge to reflect the city’s connection to the larger community.

“We’re all downtown residents,” said Nick Chretien, speaking of the group’s founding members. “We all plan to stick around Youngstown, and we want to see a huge difference after we graduate.”

The group has grown to include 10 full-time members, and as many as 35 students have shown up to help on work days. “We see things that should be done, and instead of sitting around talking about it, we want to do something,” Marchionda said.

YSUscape sponsored several fundraisers to support the mural project and has partnered with downtown organizations, including Green Youngstown and One Hot Cookie. Group members have also worked alongside other organizations, such as the German Midtown Exchange in Detroit.

“There’s been an unbelievable amount of cooperation from downtown organizations. It shows that they want something to change, too,” YSUscape president Enzo Recchia said.

YSUscape has been using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep members informed. For more information about future projects, email the group at

Story by Rebecca Brown