First Lady Michelle Obama Honors Arts and Humanities After-School Programs for Changing Lives & Communities

Fifteen programs from across the country recognized at the White House for a wide range of positive outcomes for underserved youth

(Washington, D.C.) –For their effectiveness in developing creativity and fostering academic success for young people, 15 after-school and out-of-school programs across the country were recognized by First Lady Michelle Obama at a White House ceremony on Wednesday, October 20.

Chosen from a pool of more than 400 nominations and 50 finalists, the 15 community-based programs were recipients of the 2010 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award (formerly known as the Coming Up Taller Award), the highest honor awarded to such programs in the United States. First awarded in 1998, the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award is the signature program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), and is presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

The awardees were recognized by Mrs. Obama for using engagement in the arts and the humanities to generate a wide range of outcomes, including increases in academic achievement, graduation rates, and college enrollment, as well as improvements in literacy and language abilities, communication and performance skills, and cultural awareness. The programs also provide a safe haven for young people in their most vulnerable hours, after-school, evenings and vacations.

“This year’s awardees are shining examples of using success in the arts and humanities as a bridge to success in life,” said Mrs. Obama. “Through them, our young people are not only discovering new talents and finding their creative voices, but also becoming better students, better leaders and better citizens. It’s not surprise that most of the young people participating in these programs, including those in some of our most at-risk communities, graduate from high-school and go on to college.”

The 2010 awardees represent a wide range of the arts and humanities, from teenagers in Washington, D.C. writing original stage plays about social issues to school kids creating museum exhibitions about Asian Pacific American heritage in Seattle, Washington; from neighborhood children performing classical music for families in Providence, Rhode Island to middle and high school girls debating literature in book clubs in Claremont, California.

“These programs literally transform the lives of the thousands of young people they touch,” said Rachel Goslins, executive director of the PCAH. “They not only give these kids an outlet for their passions and their talents, they’re also teaching them to think creatively, to communicate more effectively, to work as a team, and to solve problems—skills they will take with them into college, into the workforce, and out into their communities.”

Among the measurable outcomes generated by the 2010 awardees are the following:

  • 95 percent or more of the students in the RiverzEdge Arts Project (Woonsocket, R.I.), the Community MusicWorks program (Providence, R.I.), Scripps Academy (Claremont, Calif.), YouthCAN (Seattle, Wash.) and Transforming the Lives of High Risk Youth (Hartford, Conn.) are accepted to colleges or art schools — for the Scripps Academy, 90% of the participants that go on to college are the first in their family to do so;
  • 90 percent of students participating in the San Francisco WritersCorps demonstrated improved literacy skills at the end of the program;
  • 85 percent of students taking part in the After-School Playwriting Program in
  • Washington, D.C. demonstrated a stronger understanding and command of word choice, punctuation, grammar, and reading comprehension; and
  • 77 percent of Project ALERTA’s students in Boston, Mass. increased their reading scores on practice state standardized tests, with an average improvement of three percent.

Each of the 15 community-based programs will receive $10,000 and a year of communications and capacity-building support in recognition of their accomplishments. The 2010 awardees are:

After-School Playwriting Program
Young Playwrights’ Theater, Inc.
Washington, D.C.

Brooklyn Cultural Adventures Program (BCAP)
Heart of Brooklyn Cultural Institutions, Inc.
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Center for Community Arts Partnerships
Community Schools Initiative
Columbia College Chicago
Chicago, Ill.

Community MusicWorks
Providence, R.I.

FACT After–School Programs
Fine Arts for Children and Teens, Inc.
Santa, Fe, N.M.

Girlstories Theatre Project and Workshops
Powerstories Theatre, Inc.
Tampa, Fla.

New Directions YouthArts
City of Las Vegas Office of Cultural Affairs
Las Vegas, Nev.

Project ALERTA
University of Massachusetts
Boston, Mass.

RiverzEdge Arts Project
Woonsocket, R.I.

San Francisco WritersCorps
Friends & Foundation of the San Francisco Public Library
San Francisco Arts Commission
San Francisco, Calif.

Scripps College Academy
Scripps College
Claremont, Calif.

The After School Program
Mentors of Minorities in Education, Inc.
Washington, D.C.

Artists Collective’s Transforming the Lives of High Risk Youth: Training in the Arts & Culture of the African Diaspora
Artists Collective, Inc.
Hartford, Conn.

Urban Voices
Global Action Project, Inc.
New York, N.Y.

Wing Luke Asian Museum
Seattle, Wash.

“By transforming lives and communities, these programs represent an important investment in our future,” said Goslins. “It is our hope that by recognizing the best of the best in this field we will increase awareness of their tremendous power and impact, and give them the opportunity to serve more young people and attract more sustainable support.”

About the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards

The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award is the nation’s highest honor for after-school arts and humanities programs, particularly those that reach underserved children and youth. The awards recognize and support outstanding programs that lay new pathways to creativity, expression, and achievement outside of the regular school day. These programs excite and engage a range of students, cultivating imagination, collaboration, discipline and academic success, with demonstrable results. They also provide safe harbors after-school, weekends and evenings, for children and youth in some of our country’s most at-risk urban and rural settings.

About the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities

Created in 1982 by Executive Order, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) is an advisory committee to the White House on cultural issues. The PCAH works directly with the Administration and the three primary cultural agencies – National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) – as well as other federal partners and the private sector, to address policy questions in the arts and humanities, to initiate and support key programs in those disciplines and to recognize excellence in the field. Its core areas of focus are arts and humanities education, cultural exchange, and community revitalization. Mrs. Michelle Obama, like other first ladies before her, serves as honorary chairman of the committee, which is composed of both private and public members. For more information, visit: