After 20 years of experience working as a nonprofit professional in youth development and arts education with organizations like the YMCA and the Big Sister Association, I was inspired to found Arts to Grow from the ground up. I witnessed the power of arts learning to change kids’ outlooks on life, to open doors to new experiences, to harness their creative power and get them excited about learning.
When I began Arts to Grow I understood the need for schools and community organizations to work with arts education organizations to deliver quality arts programming. I also knew the amazing benefits that arts learning can provide inner-city kids. I forged ahead to create a fully functional organization that engages professional teaching artists working directly with kids and leverages financial resources of donors with the contributions of pro-bono services from professionally skilled volunteers. Our growing cadre of over 30 skills-based volunteers includes marketing, media, financial, web 2.0 and nonprofit professionals making it possible to begin building a sustainable organization.
I am pleased to say that Arts to Grow is expanding at a healthy rate. Since its inception, Arts to Grow has increased from three to eleven partner schools and community organizations and now serves over 300 kids annually living in Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, and Hoboken and Newark, New Jersey. One of the major challenges we face working in an educational area of great need is meeting the funding demand to take on new partner schools and centers. Right now, over 50 public schools and community centers have expressed an interest in Arts to Grow programming and are on a waiting list. To provide inner-city kids free quality arts classes and be priced within reach of public schools and community organizations, our fees to them are highly subsidized, at about 25% of our program costs. The cost of an average Arts to Grow program is $5,000 providing a 12-week long program serving 15-18 kids. Donations both big and small make a significant impact. Donations can be made online by visiting www.artstogrow.org and clicking donate.
One way Arts to Grow drives funding is through its annual Heart to HeART benefit to be held again in February 2009. The goal of this year’s benefit is to increase funding for scaling our program operations from serving 300 to 600 kids annually. As I watch Arts to Grow and its students blossom, I must say, I am truly proud of the progress we've made as an organization.
For more information please visit Arts to Grow. To find out how to volunteer for the Heart to HeART benefit or to buy a ticket please email email@example.com.
Originally posted on the NYWSE blog on July 29 at 11:59 a.m.