First Lady Michelle Obama honored twelve after-school and out-of school arts and humanities education programs for underserved youth on Monday with the 2014 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards.
The country’s highest honor in this field, the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards recognize exemplary programs that foster the creative and intellectual development of America’s youth through education and practical experience in the arts and humanities. The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards are conferred annually by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
Michelle Obama, the honorary chair of PCAH, presented the awards in a White House ceremony. Each organization will receive $10,000. Among the twelve recipients, three were recognized as outstanding humanities-based youth programs:
CPS Shakespeare!, Chicago Shakespeare Theater (Chicago, IL) brings Chicago Public School students and their teachers from across the city into the Chicago Shakespeare Theater rehearsal room to create a completely original Shakespeare production. Through a five-week intensive rehearsal process under the guidance of a full team of professional Chicago Shakespeare Theater artists, this intergenerational ensemble works together to prepare a fully designed production, culminating in two performances on Chicago Shakespeare’s mainstage in the Courtyard Theater. CPS Shakespeare! develops students’ literacy skills as it builds confidence, empowering our city’s teens to approach life’s challenges with bravery and self-assurance.
Middle School Program, Workshop Houston (Houston, TX) helps students in grades 6-8 to build educational, creative and technical skills in hands-on workshops dedicated to metalworking, designing clothes and accessories, creating hip-hop music, and discovery-based learning. Each shop has a comprehensive curriculum designed to increase students’ interest in and commitment to learning, allow them to express themselves creatively, and broaden their horizons through setting and accomplishing goals in their chosen medium. In addition to regular after school activities, youth in this program take part in field trips, camping trips and events designed to build community and show their work from the shops.
New Victory Usher Corps, The New 42nd Street, Inc. (New York, NY) provides paid employment, job training, academic support, mentorship and an introduction to the performing arts for 50 young New Yorkers each year. Created to address the urgent need for youth employment in New York City, the rigorous three-year program offers an opportunity for teens to invest in their future while earning a paycheck. For most participants, The New Victory marks their first introduction to the rich world of the performing arts. At every performance, these hard-working and enthusiastic young people assist audience members, ensure public safety and work as teaching assistants in arts-based workshops for families. Between shows, New Victory Ushers interact with professional artists from all over the world, participate in job and life skills workshops like time management, resume writing and personal finance, and discover how a theater runs—all while experiencing new cultures and art forms.
The other recipients of the 2014 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards are:
¡CityArts! Community AfterSchool Program, Providence CityArts for Youth, Inc. (Providence, RI)
Delta Blues Museum Arts and Education Program, Delta Blues Foundation (Clarksdale, MS)
everybody dance! after-school program, The Gabriella Foundation (Los Angeles, CA)
Job Training in the Arts, Downtown Aurora Visual Arts (Aurora, CO)
New Ballet Ensemble (NBE) and School Residencies/Scholarships, New Ballet Ensemble (Memphis, TN)
Intensive String Training Program for Black and Latino Young People, Project STEP, Inc. (Boston, MA)
Publicolor’s Continuum of Design-Based Programs, Publicolor, Inc. (New York, NY)
Teens Make History, Missouri History Museum (Saint Louis, MO)
TeenSpace Circle of Mentoring, Santa Ana Public Library (Santa Ana, CA)
Descriptions of all the award-winning programs are available at: www.nahyp.org