Seen and Heard | Creative Youth Development

2 Mass CYD Programs Receive 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Award

Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción's (IBA) CEO Vanessa Calderón-Rosado receiving the 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Award from First Lady Michelle Obama alongside Noemí Negron.For the last eight years, the President Committee on the Arts and Humanities (PCAH) led by First Lady Michelle Obama have showcased and invested in the talents of young people through the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards (NAHYP).

NAHYP recognizes 10-12 outstanding creative youth development (CYD) 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.”

This year, two programs from Massachusetts were recipients of the award:

  • The Theater Offensive’s True Colors: Out Youth Theater, the longest-running LGBTQ youth theater program in the country, which provides intensive training, artistic and professional skill building, and leadership development to youth from underserved areas
  • Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA) Youth Development Program, a humanities program that prepares youth ages 13-19 for college through rigorous workshops centered on culture, social justice, and civic engagement.

“We believe that every single child has boundless promise, no matter who they are, where they come from, or how much money their parents have. And it is important to our continued greatness to see these kids as ours – not as ‘them,’ not as ‘other’, but as ours. And that’s really the power of programs like these. That’s the message that they send to our young people every single day,” said First Lady Michelle Obama during the emotionally charged NAHYP ceremony in Washington DC this week.

The NAHYP winners were chosen from 50 finalists from all around the country. Amongst the finalists were two additional Massachusetts organizations – Boston City Singers and BalletRox! – demonstrating just how much exemplary work in the field of CYD is happening within the Commonwealth.

The MCC is proud to support all four of these organizations. We salute them in this tremendous achievement.

Nano-Interview with Corey DePina of ZUMIX

Corey DePinaName: Corey DePina
Organization: ZUMIX
Title: Youth Development and Performance Manager
Genre: Hip Hop
Years in the Field: 17

What do you do at Zumix?
I plan and run creative writing and performance programs for teens. I also teach literature through creative writing for the 9th grade class at East Boston High School. I manage, support, and train ZUMIX performance instructors to be their best, so that they can offer the best learning experience for their students.

Why do you do what you do?
I feel like this is my calling. Through my love of hip hop, I was able to learn how to read and write. I help empower so many others though understanding their voice and expressing themselves.

What comes easiest to you in this work?
Taking a boring subject or topic and finding a fun, engaging, and exciting way to introduce it to students.

What challenges you in this work?
Not being paid enough.  I wonder if we will have donors and the money to keep doing this work in the future. I also find it a challenge to continue to prove to the academic world that my spiritual and artistic approach is important, and in a lot of cases, is what’s missing.

What does it mean to your community that you do this work?
It means the world to me and to my community for everyone to have access to arts and education. In a city where our public schools have no music programs and youth are told to memorize facts like computer programming, it means so much to provide a creative outlet for expression – one that incorporates critical thinking, reflection and growth along with theory and practice.

How do you blow off steam?
Going on long drives.  Getting lost, either physically or with the paper, pen and a hip hop track.

What do you create in your free time?
In my free time I like to evolve my curriculum and create unique, fun approaches to writing and music making.

Whose work in the CYD field do you admire and why?
My homie, Eric Booth, and my big homie, Mo Barbosa. Eric is wicked smart and has a way with words. He takes this profession and validates it. Mo is super thoughtful and smart in his approach in youth work. It’s comforting every time to talk to these guys about the work. They are so confident in the field and it rubs off.

What music do you like to listen to (if even a little too loudly)?
No shame, I have been feeling the new Bruno Mars track 24KRT. I think I like it, because it’s pretty funky, and I’m sure I can bust like 95% of the dance moves I have to it.

Seen any good movies lately?
Movies, no. But that Netflix though… Black Mirror…

What are you currently reading?
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, by Beverly Daniel Tatum.

What’s next?
I want to write my own book and tell my story about how hip hop helped this young man go from being illiterate to becoming one of the best educators this city has.

Check out Corey’s tracks on SoundCloud.

New META Fellowships Provide Professional Development for Teaching Artists

Eric Booth leads learning session for more than 40 teaching artists on October 13, 2016 at the META Fellowship launch at Boston’s Symphony Hall.

The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) and Klarman Family Foundation have launched a new program to help teaching artists improve the quality of their work with youth in schools and community settings across Massachusetts.

The Music Educators and Teaching Artists (META) Fellowship Pilot Program meets a growing need for high-quality, professional teaching in programs that employ the principles of creative youth development. With an initial focus on music, this two-year fellowship will help teaching artists develop the skills, relationships, and experiences they need to improve their practice. In turn, these artist educators will be better equipped to help their students grow as musicians and develop the cognitive and life skills they will need to thrive as adults.

“This project is a game changer. It is powerful and unique in a number of ways,” says Eric Booth, author and international authority on teaching artistry. “This can serve as a model for the rest of the country.”

Booth led learning sessions for more than 40 teaching artists on October 13 at the program’s launch at Boston’s Symphony Hall. They were joined by state Representative Alice Peisch of Wellesley, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Education, MCC Executive Director Anita Walker, and leaders of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Public Schools, and others.

MCC and Klarman will provide META Fellows with professional development in instructional practice, site visits, and access to a support network of more than 30 creative youth development organizations statewide. Fellows will also receive stipends of $800 annually for participating, and are eligible for grants up to $3,000 to further develop as teachers and artists. For their part, the META Fellows, with the support of their organizations, will participate in up to eight group learning sessions and visit two programs of other participating organizations each year. Finally they will develop and present projects that document new knowledge for broader dissemination within the represented organizations.

This pilot project builds on MCC’s 20-plus-year support of creative youth development, an intentional, holistic practice that fosters active creative expression through the arts, humanities, and sciences alongside core social, emotional, and life skills, for youth of all ages. In supportive spaces, with guidance from skilled and compassionate teachers, children and adolescents immerse themselves in creative endeavors: composing and making music, producing and directing films and journalism, writing and staging new dramas, creating and interpreting visual art. Programs take place in public, private and charter schools; nonprofit arts, science and history institutions; YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs, and many other settings.

Youth in these programs achieve high levels of artistic skill and a deeper knowledge of themselves and their cultural heritage. They build self-esteem, resilience, and civic agency. They create works of art and culture, and in doing so create meaning in their lives. The programs share an overarching goal to help them reach their full potential as individuals and as contributors to their communities.

MCC has been a national leader in this work for more than two decades. Its YouthReach Initiative integrates substantive out-of-school arts learning opportunities into a collaborative community response to the needs of young people – especially at-risk youth. More than 40 YouthReach programs have been honored over the years with National Arts & Humanities Youth Program awards from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. In 2014, MCC hosted the National Summit on Creative Youth Development, which shone a national spotlight on the work of YouthReach and generated an ongoing national partnership between the MCC, the National Guild for Community Arts Education, the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, and Americans for the Arts. Later that year Massachusetts became the first state in nation to create a public support system for El Sistema-inspired work. SerHacer is an innovative program that provides grant support to programs, supports an instrument library through the Johnson String Project so that young people have access to high quality instruments with insurance and maintenance included, and includes a three year research study that seeks to establish the impact of the El Sistema model on the lives of young people.

A Journey Through the Eyes of Boston Teens

 

Take a journey through the eyes of teen artists from the ICA’s nationally recognized Teen Programs. The exhibit ICA Teen Photography (through October 30, 2016 at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art) features new works made by 16 Boston-area ICA teen participants. Throughout the school year, participants in the museum’s rigorous digital photography courses learned to use museum-issued cameras, and established positive relationships with peers and the professional artists and educators who led the classes.

When asked what he looks for in a photography subject, Edward Tapia, a teen whose work is featured in the exhibit said, “There are certain things that seem attractive to the eye as it is, but honestly, anything can become attractive and interesting if someone looks at it with a different view. I try to turn things into outstanding compositions with photography, so I look at things in a different way than usual and capture what seems interesting about it to create even more.”

“One of my biggest take-aways from participating in the Teen Programs at the ICA is to learn to appreciate art and discover the meaning behind it, and then apply them to my personal life.”

Krystal Cai, another teen whose work is featured in the exhibit said, “One of the biggest take-aways I have from participating in the teen programs at the ICA is a clear understanding of the basic technical features of the camera, which I think was a valuable lesson for me as a beginner. Also, this program taught me do not ever delete pictures, because you can always look back at your previous work to see how you progress and learn areas for improvement.”

More information on ICA Teen Programs.

Mass. Youth Represent at 1st National Take a Stand Festival

Boston String Academy youth concert. Photo courtesy Marielisa and Mariesther Alvarez.Last week,  in New York’s Hudson valley, Bard College hosted the first National Take a Stand Festival, bringing together student-musicians participating in El Sistema-inspired programs from across the country for a 5-day music camp.

The National Take a Stand Festival is provided to students free of charge through a partnership between the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Venezuela’s FundaMusical, Longy School of Music, Aspen Music Festival and School, and Bard College.  For some students, the Festival was their first experience traveling out of state, and gave them the opportunity to collaborate with peers from different parts of the country as they work with exceptional master teachers and musicians on challenging musical repertoire.

Approximately 80 participants, ages 11-17, were selected for the Eastern Festival. (The western states’ Festival was held in Aspen in June.) Twenty-five participants were from Massachusetts, making it the largest delegation from any single state. Most of the Massachusetts students (including 13 from Boston String Academy, whose program is pictured above) also participate in programs supported by MCC’s SerHacer Program.

In addition to its large student contingent, Boston String Academy’s excellence was recognized with the selection of Co-Director Mariesther Alvarez to join the Festival’s roster of 10 Master Teachers who ground both the Western and Eastern Festivals. Co-Director Marielisa Alvarez was also invited to teach at the Eastern Festival.

The El Sistema model originated in Venezuela with the goal of promoting social change and citizenship through music, primarily by providing orchestral music experiences universally.  In its 40 years, El Sistema has inspired thousands of music educators around the world.

Announcing the CYD National Partnership

National CYD Partnership logo

New Collective Impact Strategy to Strengthen Community-Based Organizations and Empower Practitioners & Youth

Today marks the formal launch of the Creative Youth Development National Partnership between the National Guild for Community Arts Education, Massachusetts Cultural Council, The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, and Americans for the Arts. These four organizations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to formalize their joint commitment to advancing creative youth development (CYD) as a field of practice nationwide.

Creative youth development is a recently coined term that organizes a longstanding community of practice that intentionally integrates the arts, sciences, and humanities with youth development principles, sparking young people’s creativity, and building critical learning and life skills that carry into adulthood.

This new coalition is collaborating to organize and accelerate the CYD movement through a collective impact strategy with a common agenda, shared systems and activities, cross-sector engagement, and continuous communications. The Partnership aims to strengthen community-based organizations working in youth development and the arts, sciences, and humanities; develop and support adult practitioners in the field; and benefit youth by increasing access to CYD opportunities throughout the United States.

See the full announcement on www.creativeyouthdevelopment.org.

Johnson String Project

The Johnson String Project is dedicated to ensuring that all students in El Sistema-inspired programs in Massachusetts have access to high quality string instruments.  But this is more than a simple ‘donate an instrument’ program.  Instead, students are guaranteed a quality instrument that they can exchange as they grow and can have them maintained and repaired at no cost.

Hear more about the origins of the Johnson String Project from Carol Johnson on MCC’s podcast, Creative Minds Out Loud.

DYS Youth Voice What Matters at Annual Statewide Showcase

This post was adapted from the a piece by Kim Phan in the Mass Health and Human Services Blog.

Stage for the 2016 DYS Youth Showcase

“Voice What Matters”, the banner above the stage read, and that is exactly what the youth of the Mass Department of Youth Services (DYS) did. From paintings to sculptures, to videos, songs and dance, young people showed who they are and what matters to them. This year the DYS held the 4th Annual “Share Your Art, Share Your Voice!” Statewide Youth Showcase on June 16 at the Paramount Center at Emerson College.

The motivation for the investment in the arts by DYS came about because, as Peter Forbes, Department of Youth Services Commissioner, said, “Many of the youth are not happy to be with us (DYS), so we have to try to figure out what they’re interested in and use that interest as a hook for the change process. Many of the youth have unbelievable artistic talent, but they often don’t have exposure to the arts to see that, so this is something the agency put forward.”

The showcase kicked off with a youth art exhibition, with the proceeds going directly to the artists. Walking through the exhibit, excited chatter of the attendees could be heard as they eyed the pieces they were going to purchase. “They’re going fast,” said one onlooker. “I know they always do,” said another.

DYS Youth Showcase art exhibit

A self-portrait on display that had sold within 15 minutes of the exhibit opening was entitled “Purple Stands for Loyalty.” The artist, Kevin, wrote in his description, “I feel good that I did this self-portrait. Purple is my favorite color.”

Another artist wrote this about her painting “Look Closely”: “Pretty much everyone has a different perspective, a different eye. For this, trees make me feel calmed down, like I’m in a forest alone.”

Following the exhibit, performing artists hit the stage. The performances, while entertaining, also highlighted the realities of life. A youth named Xavier gave a powerful rendition of the “Hath not a Jew Eyes?” speech from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, a performance which had the audience in thunderous applause. A story by a youth named Dion described the struggle of reality vs. perception, and what he called the “Levels to this Frontin’” meaning what the world sees on the outside is not always what it is truly like on the inside. A group of girls – Jessica, Clarisine, Cheyenne, Zorelys, and Irianis – performed a stepping routine with rhythms that resonated throughout the theater.

NEA Chair Jane Chu Celebrates CYD Achievements

Photo (left to right): Michael Killoren, NEA’s director of local arts agencies; Jane Chu, NEA’s Chairman; Mary Jaffee, Executive Director of Project STEP; Jonathan Herman, Executive Director, National Guild for Community Arts Education; Anita Walker, MCC Executive Director, Nina Fialkow, MCC Chair.Last week National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu joined us as we celebrated a recent NEA grant to the National Guild for Community Arts Education to support a collective impact initiative and the creation of the first-ever blueprint to advance Creative Youth Development (CYD). The National Guild accepted this grant on behalf of the national CYD partners: The Massachusetts Cultural Council, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, Americans for the Arts, and The National Guild. Representatives from CYD programs throughout the country attended the event.

MCC Executive Director, Anita Walker praised and thanked Massachusetts leadership in the field which has included investments of more than $11 million over the past two decades.

On her remarks, Chu reinforced the importance of creative youth development, which integrates the arts, humanities, and sciences with youth development principles. “Arts education fosters bright, creative, and socially engaged students who will grow up to be our next leaders, parents, teachers, artists, and engineers. Because of your work, you are giving them the tools to lead their best lives.” Chu said with gratitude.

To conclude the program, Project STEP students performed and Project STEP Executive Director, Mary Jaffee, who is stepping down after 11 years, received a recognition for her work. In 2014 and under Jaffee’s leadership, Project STEP received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award for its rigorous, comprehensive, year-round classical string training program for underrepresented minorities. This is the highest recognition in the nation.

Creative Youth Development

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