ASTEP on STAGE! introduces youth from underserved communities in NYC to the transforming power of the arts by bringing performing and visual artists from the Broadway and NYC community to after-school and in-school programs. ASTEP on STAGE! partners with NYC schools and community organizations serving youth affected by the justice system, incarceration, gun violence, homelessness, immigration status, systemic poverty, and HIV/AIDS.

ASTEP Volunteer Artists deliver 1- to 2-hour classes focusing 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 to learn how to bring ASTEP on STAGE! to your community.

+ Visit Get Involved to learn more about becoming an ASTEP Volunteer Artist!

RAul“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:

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.

Women In Need 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—and the goal is to provide families with dignity and a space of their own as they seek housing. Children are often greatly affected by the lack of stability during this transition, and ASTEP’s art classes seek to provide engaging and exciting after-school and summer programs to give them a creative outlet. ASTEP works with two 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.

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