ASTEP on STAGE! connects Volunteer Teaching Artists with schools and community organizations to bring the transformative power of the arts to children and young people throughout NYC. In collaboration with our partner organizations, ASTEP on STAGE! brings the arts to youth affected by the justice system, incarceration, gun violence, homelessness, immigration status, systemic poverty, and HIV/AIDS.
ASTEP Volunteer Teaching Artists deliver 1- to 2-hour workshops and, depending on need, range from weekly, ongoing classes to quarterly “fun days”. Workshops focus on music, visual art, storytelling, poetry, and dance. Each class is carefully crafted to build our students’ social and emotional skills, to introduce them to new art forms, and to give them space to have fun and be kids! By introducing students to new art forms and new artists, we provide young people with the opportunity to not only try new things, but to discover role models from all walks of life. Through ASTEP on STAGE! classes, young people learn that they have what it takes to succeed no matter the obstacles, which is key to breaking cycles of intergenerational poverty.
Contact Lizzy Santiago at email@example.com to learn how to bring ASTEP on STAGE! to your community.
+ Visit Get Involved to learn more about becoming an ASTEP Volunteer Artist!
“The arts inspire us to dream. Culture is what we leave behind us and what we create into the future…ASTEP is an organization that I am so proud to be a part of because we help kids imagine a bigger future.”
— Raul Esparza, Broadway actor and ASTEP Supporter
The following is a list of our current ASTEP on STAGE! partners:
Abraham House is a community organization in the Mott Haven community of the South Bronx that provides services not just for individuals involved with the justice system and their families, but to the entire Mott Haven community in an effort to reduce justice involvement for future generations. ASTEP partners with Abraham House’s after school and summer programming to provide biweekly workshops for children who live within the community, many of whose families have been affected by the justice system. Our goal at this program is to provide a safe, fun space where young people can explore their voices and build their collaboration, problem solving, and communication skills using the performing and visual arts.
CHOICES is an Alternative to Detention program of CASES (The Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services) for justice involved youth ages 8-15. This program is court-mandated, and students not only attend programming, but also work with case managers who help them to find extra-curricular activities and jobs when appropriate. Our main program goal is to teach students that the arts can be a fun way to engage with their peers and to help them discover new, healthy ways to express their emotions. We work with CHOICES once a week in the South Bronx, Brooklyn, and Harlem and programs includes month-long introductions to different art forms.
A program of the Harlem Justice Center and the Center for Court Innovation, the Harlem Justice Corps is a reentry program for young men and women ages 18-24 who have recently been incarcerated, participated in an Alternative to Incarceration program, or who are on parole or probation. The Justice Corps is a three-month career development program that helps members find work, provides educational services, and asks members to participate in a community benefit project. ASTEP works with at least one cohort of young people annually to help integrate the arts into their community benefit project and introduce the idea of art being a way to positively interact with their communities, their families, and the world.
The Incarnation Children’s Center is a residential pediatric facility for children up to age 21 who are living with HIV/AIDS. ASTEP works with the ICC to curate bi-monthly open mic nights that introduce residents to new art forms performed by professional artists, and simultaneously provides a safe space for residents who are interested in sharing their own artwork, be it performing or visual art. ASTEP also provides seasonal “fun days” that consist of arts-inspired games and activities, and the focus is on teamwork, creative problem solving, and fun!
Through Lutheran Social Services, ASTEP works with children between the ages of 5 and 16 who have arrived at the US Border without an adult family member and who are awaiting resettlement through immigration court. While the children are in this period of detention, they stay in a shelter and attend a school built specifically to meet their unique needs. Every Friday, ASTEP brings the joy and fun the arts to these young people with the intention of giving them the opportunity to play and be children while building positive peer relationships and critical thinking skills. All classes at this site are taught in Spanish.
Passages Academy is a NYC Department of Education school that operates within Crossroads Juvenile Detention Facility, and serves youth ages 10-15. As youth in a secure facility, the students we work with at Passages often lack extensive programming opportunities, feel forgotten by the outside community, and struggle with positive self image, positive behavior and self-regulation strategies. By collaborating with the Passages Academy Library, our artists are able to lead four-class workshops that link the arts to students’ language arts curricula, usually through theatre, poetry or creative writing. Our programming at Passages strives to light a fire that encourages students to actively engage in their academics, and at the same time we seek to give a voice to these often overlooked young people and teach them that their voices and choices matter.
Safe Horizon is a Harlem-based organization that provides recreation, mental health, medical, and many other services for young people between 16 and 25 who are directly affected by homelessness and trauma. ASTEP partners with Safe Horizon to bring monthly dance and music workshops to the young people who engage with Safe Horizon’s drop-in services. ASTEP’s workshops aim to tap into the enthusiasm of this lively and engaged community, and to build a sense of community, connection, and collaboration.
Win provides transitional housing facilities for New York City families, and currently houses nearly 10% of NYC’s homeless population. Families of all shapes and sizes live at Win – single mothers, single fathers, two-parent families, parents who are employed, and everything else under the sun. The goal of Win is to provide families with dignity and a space of their own during this transitional time as they seek stable housing. Children are often greatly affected by the lack of stability during this transition, and Win seeks to provide engaging and exciting after school and summer programming to give them a creative outlet. ASTEP works with three different Win locations to provide monthly and bi-weekly arts workshops that give the children, ages 5-11, an opportunity to feel successful, build creative problem solving skills, and experiment in a new art form.
While all of our Win sites serve a wide range of young people, one of our sites provides transitional housing specifically for families affected by domestic violence. At this site, as with all of our sites, we prioritize children’s safety in our volunteer trainings, and equip our teams with the tools they need to create a safe, nurturing classroom where all of our students can challenge themselves and grow using the arts.