Youth Program Wins the 2016 NAHYP Award!

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You could feel the burst of joy, appreciation, and excitement spread throughout the room when First Lady Michelle Obama presented us with one of the 2016 National Arts & Humanities Youth Program (NAHYP) Awards. Many gathered for our live viewing party to celebrate all of the hard work of our staff, students, and community that has made our Youth Development Program (YDP) such a success.

The National Arts and Humanities Youth Award recognizes 12 outstanding programs from across the country. It is the Nation’s highest honor “for out-of-school arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America’s young people, particularly those from underserved communities.” As an awardee, we will receive a $10,000 grant as well as “a full year of capacity-building and communications support;” allowing us to further strengthen our mission – to empower and engage individuals and families to improve their lives through high-quality affordable housing, education, and arts programs – by continuing to provide a unique opportunity that prepares young people for their futures.

Sponsors of the 2016 NAHYP Awards.

Sponsors of the 2016 NAHYP Awards.

Our YDP students come to us from communities all over Boston, including the South End, Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan with the drive to develop their leadership abilities, confidence, positive relationships, and job skills. We provide these youth participants with a platform to grow by opening high-quality arts & humanities learning experiences to them.

Students focus on two of the following areas: (1) Leadership, civic, and community engagement, to learn about social justice and how to organize a community to take action; (2) Arts education, where we offer a variety of workshops – in poetry, dance, theatre, photography, printmaking, and design – to improve technical skills and spark critical thinking; and (3) Academic support to get tutoring, workplace readiness skills, help with college applications, and to go on college visits. By integrating these lessons into each youth participants lives, we are able to inspire our teens to become healthy and thriving leaders in their communities.

Our CEO, Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, received the award alongside Noemí Negron, one of our YDP participants. Both were very excited to meet the First Lady, who gave special recognition to Noemí and our Youth Program in her speech. Noemí even shared a special moment with First Lady Michelle Obama on stage. (Watch the full awards ceremony below).

Noemí came to us in the Summer of 2016, eager to make a difference in her community, but unsure how to start. She heard from friends that our youth program helped them (other youth) make a positive impact in their communities – small and large – while better expressing their ideas and feelings. She joined the workshop “Art for Social Justice” and the seminar “From Africa to Hip Hop: a vehicle for social change.” Through her participation in a video art project, she helped highlight the history of oppression in America, especially around voting rights for women.

Upon completion of our program, Noemí said she felt “confident” and “a sense of empowerment” from the knowledge she gained in our workshops. She emphasized that she felt prepared to make a difference in the community and had gained a new perspective of how to use art as a powerful tool for change.

We’re proud to have helped inspire hundreds of teens, like Noemí, as they grow into future community leaders; and we could not be more elated at the receipt of the NAHYP Award, recognizing our continued efforts. Please help to make sure our Youth Development Program will continue to thrive for many more years to come, helping more & more young people, by donating now. Remember, every donation – no matter the amount – helps make a difference in hundreds of young lives.

*Note: Check out some of the press coverage we have received from publications like MetroBoston and the Boston Globe.

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