WHO WE ARE
ASTEP was conceived by Broadway Musical Director Mary-Mitchell Campbell and Juilliard students to transform the lives of youth using the most powerful tool they had: their art. Today, ASTEP connects performing and visual artists with underserved youth in the U.S. and around the world to awaken their imaginations, foster critical thinking, and help them break the cycle of poverty.
WE DEFINE POVERTY AS A LACK OF CHOICE
At ASTEP, we are deeply committed to empowering individuals who suffer from an absence of choice, especially children. The right to choose is a fundamental human right, and we strive to end the poverty that robs us of that humanity. The performing and visual arts create a unique safe space to rediscover choice.
WHY THE ARTS?
ACCESS TO THE ARTS IS ESSENTIAL
TO A CHILD'S SUCCESS
We see every day how access to the arts gives children vital skills that can be used in school and in their personal lives. They become better communicators, build their confidence to participate, and learn how to solve problems by thinking outside the box. Most importantly, the arts show each child that their voice is important.
There is infinite possibility in that belief.
HOW WE WORK
WE PARTNER WITH SCHOOLS
AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS
ASTEP partners with schools and community organizations that serve vulnerable populations: youth affected by immigration status, homelessness, gun-violence, incarceration, the justice system, HIV/AIDS, systemic poverty, and the caste system. We craft a variety of unique program models that best fit the needs of our partner’s student population, working collaboratively within existent structures. This approach means that we are complementing our partners’ goals, ensuring the needs of the whole child are met. Practically speaking, this means that all ASTEP programs look vastly different from one another.
Through after-school workshops and summer camps, ASTEP Volunteer Artists strive to use the performing and visual arts as a vehicle for teaching students social and emotional and self-regulatory skill sets—each program achieves that mission in various ways and to varying degrees of measured success.
ASTEP'S ARTISTS ARE THE KEY TO OUR SUCCESS
The quality of the artists who volunteer with ASTEP uniquely positions us among other arts education nonprofits. Our Volunteer Artists are highly successful Broadway performers, professional artists, or students and faculty from schools such as Juilliard, offering a variety of disciplines such as dance, visual art, music, and drama. They become transformative role models in the lives of the youth we serve, combining their passion for the arts and their ability to use artistic tools to teach important life skills.
In NYC and South Florida, ASTEP Volunteer Artists deliver after-school and summer art programs to youth affected by immigration status, homelessness, gun-violence, incarceration, the justice system, HIV/AIDS, and systemic poverty.
In India and South Africa, ASTEP Volunteer Artists deliver multi-week arts camps to youth affected by the caste system, systemic poverty, and HIV/AIDS.
Through ASTEP Chapters, Workshops and the annual Artist as Citizen Conference, ASTEP introduces young artists to the diverse ways they can strengthen their communities and empower individuals through the arts.
ASTEP IS LOOKING FOR PASSIONATE ARTISTS
WHO WANT TO USE
THE POWER OF THE ARTS
“THE ART PROGRAMS EQUIPPED ME WITH THE SKILLS TO APPRECIATE DEPTH AND DETAIL, AN INVALUABLE ABILITY REQUIRED FOR THE STUDY OF LAW”
Karthika Annamalai, the daughter of a quarry worker from a poverty-stricken region of India, was fortunate to receive an education at Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project, an ASTEP partner. She participated in ASTEP art programs throughout primary and secondary school, excelling in visual arts and becoming an accomplished cellist, taught by ASTEP volunteer musicians. Her dedication to academics and talent for the arts, along with the confidence and belief in a better future that ASTEP programs helped foster, helped Karthika to secure a spot in law school, where she is currently completing her first year.
KARTHIKA ANNAMALAI | ASTEP STUDENT
“ONE OF THE THINGS THE PROGRAM DOES IS INSTILL A SENSE OF FAMILY AND COMMUNITY”
"I have changed as an artist since working with ASTEP and seen my own artistic personality change in a positive direction. I am better in many instances for that.”
RAYMUNDO GUTIERREZ | ASTEP VOLUNTEER | ARTIST
“IT'S THE PERFECT COMBINATION OF MY PASSIONS: TEACHING, THEATRE, MUSIC AND TRAVELLING”
"I was drawn to ASTEP’s determination that the arts can and will teach children positive life and social skills, and that these skills are so powerful that they can help these children free themselves from the poverty cycle. I want to be part of that.”
LYNN BIXLER | ASTEP VOLUNTEER ARTIST
“THESE STUDENTS ARE AT A TURNING POINT IN THEIR LIVES AND WE GIVE THEM THE TOOLS THEY NEED TO BE SUCCESSFUL AS THEY BEGIN A NEW CHAPTER”
“I feel so fortunate to have spent my summer teaching dance with ASTEP. Working with these students has been an important lesson for me on overcoming obstacles. I was humbled to be a part of something bigger than myself and really thrived off of the enthusiasm that the students brought to class each day. All of the students are at a turning point in their lives, and RYSA gives them the tools they need to be successful as they begin a new chapter.”
AUSTIN SORA | ASTEP VOLUNTEER ARTIST
Get to know our Manager of Programs, Sami Manfredi!
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Volunteer Spotlight: Gladys Pasapera
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Will Thomason’s blog: A NEW YEAR WITH ASTEP
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VOLUNTEER WITH US AT SHANTI BHAVAN!
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