Spark Creativity to celebrate ASTEP’s 15th year!

ASTEP is fifteen years strong! This past year has been an opportunity for reflection that has ignited great change.  Your support ensured ASTEP’s continued growth in an ever changing landscape, and we are so grateful for you. 

Because of you, the young people we serve will have the courage, community, and creative capacity to build a better tomorrow.

Give today to deepen partnerships with community organizations, pilot new programs, and empower more young people through the arts in 2022. Your donation matters, to the organization, and to the young people we serve!  DONATE TODAY!

Read the end of year letter & announcement from Founder Mary-Mitchell Campbell here.







Exciting ASTEP announcement!


Dear Friend,

What a year it has been! 2021 marked not only a significant milestone for ASTEP as we celebrated our 15th anniversary, but also a year of significant growth for the organization fueled by critical reflection of our past and strategic planning for the future. ASTEP supporters are unique. You show up for young people. This past year has been an opportunity for growth that has led to a leap towards great change, and I am blown away by the resilience of the ASTEP community and the incredible young people we serve! I am especially grateful for your unwavering support of our work through these uncertain times.

ASTEP was a spark of an idea that came to life with a group of artists dedicated to making a difference in the lives of young people. For years, ASTEP volunteers were running in and out of my New York City apartment – our first ASTEP office – at all hours! We were eager, dedicated, and aching to support young people who sought a creative outlet. After 15 years, ASTEP is now a self-sustaining enterprise and the organization is ready for the next phase.

We at ASTEP believe the arts are a human right and have committed ourselves to accessibility, equity, and anti-oppression throughout our work. We also acknowledge that the best opportunities for growth and change arise when people in power are willing to make room for more to join the table. It has been a great honor to be a part of ASTEP’s growth from a grassroots nonprofit in 2006 into the international arts organization it is today. I am excited to announce that I will be stepping down as Executive Director to take on a new role within the organization as President. In early 2022, we will welcome a new Executive Director as a partner and leader in elevating this organization and the voices of young people all around the world.

I am filled with enthusiasm to know that our new Executive Director will be stepping into a community of wonderful people like you! Your generosity and commitment opens young people’s minds to new possibilities with the belief that if you can see it, you can be it. You are showing our young people that you believe in them, that their voices and stories are important, and that they can be heard. Thanks to your support, we are able to celebrate accomplishments like our commitment to compensate professional teaching artists and the expansion of our programs!

Please give today to ensure that we continue to deepen our current partnerships, pilot new programs, and empower more young people through the arts. Your donation matters to the organization and to the young people we serve. By investing in ASTEP today, you are paving the way for tomorrow’s thinkers and leaders. The future of ASTEP is bright thanks to you, and I cannot wait to step into our exciting new chapter together.

With optimism & gratitude,



Mary-Mitchell Campbell
Founder and Executive Director





New York City Christmas: RETURNS!


We are thrilled to share that our annual Christmas concert will return to Joe’s Pub this year on MONDAY, DECEMBER 13 at 7PM!

After much anticipation, we can finally celebrate the return of our in-person annual benefit concert, conceived, produced, and music directed by Drama Desk-nominated orchestrator Lynne Shankel (NBC’s Annie Live, Cry-Baby, Altar Boyz, Allegiance). Now in its 12th year, our concert will feature Broadway’s favorites singing fresh, original approaches of holiday songs off of the ‘New York City Christmas’ album, along with several original songs. Don’t miss out on this exciting evening, filled with music and holiday cheer.

The concert will again boast an incredible line-up of artists, including Tony Award nominee Kate Baldwin (Hello, Dolly!, Big Fish) Tony Award nominee Montego Glover (Memphis, Hamilton), Chester Gregory (Motown, Sister Act, Hairspray), Sierra Boggess (Phantom of the Opera, The Little Mermaid), Alysha Umphress (On the Town, Smokey Joe‘s), David Josefsberg (Beetlejuice, The Prom), Kenita Miller (Come From Away, Once On This Island), Kuhoo Verma (Plan B, The Big Sick), Eric William Morris (King Kong), Gerard Canonico (Groundhog Day, Dear Evan Hansen), Natalie Joy Johnson (Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde), Lauren Marcus (Be More Chill), Ben Roseberry (The Lion King), Alyse Alan Louis (Soft Power, Amelie), Becca Gottlieb (Nicholas Nickleby, Grand Thef), and Kennedy Kanagawa (Saturday Night, Into the Woods).

Shankel will be featured on piano with Randy Landau on bass, Frank Pagano on drums, Jim Hershman and Peter Calo on guitar, Sarah Hewil Roth on cello, Max Mosten on violin, Scott Kreitzer and Jeff Schiller on saxophone, and Colin Brigstocke on trumpet.


We’re also excited to Live Stream the concert for those unable to join us in-person. It’s free so sign up here!

Sponsorship opportunities are also available. Please email Hannah Martin at for more info.

ALL proceeds from tickets to the show and album sales go to supporting ASTEP’s efforts to cultivate the creative capacity, community, and courage young people need to thrive through the arts.

To purchase your own copy of New York City Christmas: An Album to Benefit ASTEPclick here.

For additional singles, click HERE and HERE.


A special thank you to our Sponsors!


Community Service Society

Steven Farkas

Jim Jones + Joe Langworth

Jeffrey + Gheña Korn

Oda + Henry Sham

Sheri Sarkisian

Wesfair Agency



Hiring! New Executive Director

Artists Striving to End Poverty

Executive Director

New York, New York


ASTEP was conceived in 2006 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 young people who can benefit from arts education and offers leadership training for those seeking to change the world through art.  By awakening imaginations and fostering creativity, ASTEP supports young people to develop agency through the arts—to develop the ability to imagine new futures and possibilities and gain the skills and strength to achieve them.

ASTEP partners with schools and community organizations to create after-school and summer programming that use the arts as a vehicle to teach youth the social emotional skills they need to be the best versions of themselves, celebrates their strengths, and builds up their unique areas for growth. 

Programs in New York, Miami, India, and South Africa provide a bridge between artists and youth with limited or no access to the arts and serve youth affected by the justice system, incarceration, gun violence, homelessness, immigration status, systemic poverty, and HIV/AIDS, and generational poverty.

ASTEP’s Teaching 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. Combining a passion for the arts and an ability to use artistic tools to teach life skills, they become trusted mentors to their students.

ASTEP is a growing organization with an engaged board and staff and a fun, informal, and forward-thinking internal culture. During the pandemic, leadership has undertaken a significant re-visioning effort. In furtherance of their mission, the organization has reinvested in becoming an ever more inclusive, responsive, and representative organization, and evolved their programs during this unprecedented time to meet the moment.  

Among other advances, ASTEP has expanded the organizational vision to reach more young people, is transitioning from recruiting volunteer Training Artists to a fully paid model and is taking steps to ensure that individuals with relevant experience to the communities they serve, in all levels of the organization, are compensated fairly for creating value for those communities.


ASTEP began its anti-racism journey long before the summer of 2020 and expects to continue it long after. We engage in both formal (training, consultancies) and informal practices (book clubs, shared leadership models) to continue to interrogate supremacist behavior in ourselves and our organization. We are committed to seeking staff members and Teaching Artists who are representative of the communities we serve; therefore, cultivating a sense of belonging across diverse populations is crucial to our success.

You can learn more about ASTEP online at:


Following a long and successful tenure of its founder as professional leader, ASTEP is seeking a strong manager of both people and systems as its next Executive Director to provide strategic vision and operationalize ASTEP’s goal to make a broader social impact through the arts. Building on extensive prior thinking and data, the Executive Director will create a multi-year strategic plan in collaboration with the board that outlines where ASTEP is headed and the path to get there.

Because ASTEP is intentionally re-envisioning itself, this is an exciting opportunity for a leader with big, mission-aligned ideas. The Executive Director will oversee the shift to a new organizational identity, both internally and externally, drive the national expansion of ASTEP’s programs and partnerships, and build out the internal infrastructure to support them.

ASTEP is in a solid financial position with a budget that has recently topped the $1M threshold for funders. The Executive Director will be responsible for capitalizing on that opportunity by managing the current budget, setting financial priorities, and raising the funds to fuel ASTEP’s growth.  Working closely with the board and founder, the Executive Director will lead efforts to grow the fundraising base, including grants and gifts from foundations, corporations, and major donors.


Strategic Vision and Leadership:

  • Provide strategic vision for ASTEP in service of its mission and lead the organization into its next phase of development, growth, and impact.
  • Lead the ASTEP staff and community through transformation, growth and beyond with transparency and positivity; ensure the team feels connected to ASTEP’s priorities and are kept abreast of decisions made at the senior leadership level. 
  • Ensure that ASTEP’s vision, values, brand, and strategic priorities are evident and consistent in every aspect of the organization, including its staff and programs.
  • Drive ongoing discussion and experimentation that encourages innovation and pushes boundaries in making a wider social impact through art. 
  • Provide inspirational leadership, direction, and supervision to a high-performance team, including five direct reports; foster a culture of accountability, collaboration, and experimentation that embraces change and ensures team members feel appreciated and have equal access to opportunity.
  • Attract, hire, retain and promote qualified professionals; empower staff through active communication, professional development, and delegation.

External Relations and Resource Development:

  • Act as the primary driver in grant and donor cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship, engaging the founder strategically in the process.
  • Build out a comprehensive development team to assist in developing new funding sources and deepening connections with current donors.
  • Serve as a key spokesperson of ASTEP’s vision, values, programs, challenges, and achievements. In addition to the founder, represent the organization and promote coalition building and collaboration with other community organizations, businesses, and partners.
  • Ensure ASTEP’s external communications efforts promote the public visibility of its expanded mission and enhance revenue from all sources.
  • Cultivate a strong and transparent working relationship with the Board of Directors and promote engagement in strategic planning and resource development; support the board in the identification and recruitment of new board members with an emphasis on diversification; keep the board informed of all organizational matters.

Finance and Operations: 

  • Administer the day-to-day function of the organization including structure, policies, and procedures, and grant reporting and compliance.
  • Oversee the financial status of the organization; set financial priorities that support the needs of the program and staff; manage the budget and ensure that revenues and expenditures are consistent with the budget approved by the Board.
  • Direct the development, refinement, implementation, and articulation of organizational offerings that reflect the mission, create revenue opportunities, and change lives.
  • Create systems and processes that facilitate donor tracking, data collection, and promote consistency throughout the organization.


  • Nonprofit management experience, ideally at the executive level, and a demonstrated ability to develop and implement strategic plans, mange organizational finances, create earned revenue streams, and undertake successful fundraising. 
  • An appreciation for and understanding of the lived experiences of program participants; a commitment to communities historically impacted by inequity.
  • Demonstrated track record of growing an organization and building an internal infrastructure to support a mission; experience with change management. 
  • Financially savvy with the ability to set clear priorities, delegate, and guide investment in people and systems.
  • A collaborative leader who seeks synergy with the founder, board, and staff to work together toward a shared vision; comfortable both soliciting input from others and making decisions quickly, effectively, and confidently.
  • Excellent manager and developer of talent; ability to smooth ruffled feathers, work with strong personalities, and give people the freedom to run with ideas.
  • Bold, risk taker willing to challenge the status quo while respecting organizational learnings and history.
  • Dynamic relationship builder who displays a sincere interest in each staff and board member, donor, teaching artist and community member, and engages others in ASTEPS values and mission.
  • Equity mindset that welcomes and encourages a diversity of opinions and viewpoints while prioritizing voices and perspectives from the young people and communities whom ASTEP serves. 


  • Salary range of $110,000 – $125,000 commensurate with experience, plus benefits. 

This position description is based upon material provided by Artists Striving to End Poverty, an equal opportunity employer.  ASTEP especially welcomes applications from people of the global majority—including Black, Asian, Indigenous, and People of Color.

Debbie Katz

Search Specialist


To apply to this position please visit




Gift an ASTEP Creative Activity Kit!

The current state of the world has brought on unexpected challenges for our partners and the communities we serve together. Many of our students have limited access to the internet, which hinders their ability to participate in online learning. Other students have been overwhelmed by screen time and need to disconnect. On top of these challenges, access to art supplies is limited for our students.

In order to solve these problems, we are launching our Creative Activity Kits initiative!

These kits are full of educational arts-based activities that allow students to learn, express themselves, and have fun. No internet or screens are required, and all of the necessary supplies are included in the kits. Each student will receive their own kit, which they can take with them for whenever inspiration strikes.

So far, we’ve provided 150 Creative Activity Kits to our students, but we need your help to continue giving the gift of imagination in these challenging times.

  • For $25, you can send a Creative Activity Kit to an ASTEP student.
  • For $150, you can provide Creative Activity Kits to a family of six affected by homelessness.
  • For $500, you can support an entire classroom of students with Creative Activity Kits.


We are grateful for our $15,000.00 Matching Fund Donors for this campaign

Laura Chittick
The Esposito Family
Thomas & Sheryl FitzGerald
Jacob Hadad
Cynthia Kortman Westphal
Theresa Martinac
Elizabeth Salem
Tim Swearingen
Landon Westbrook

Announcement! Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellowship recipients selected for RYSA 2020!

For a third year, ASTEP is honored to select two stellar Volunteer Teaching Artists as recipients of the Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellowship for their work with ASTEP Arts at RYSA 2020 Gladys Pasapera and Lindsay Roberts!

ASTEP provides the arts component of The International Rescue Committee’s Refugee Youth Summer Academy (RYSA), a six-week summer camp, which supports the personal growth, cultural adjustment, and education for 2oo young people who have recently resettled in New York City (ages 4-22) and helps them successfully transition into the US school system. 

The current global health crisis has prevented RSYA from being held in person, however, ASTEP and the IRC were committed to giving these kids the RYSA camp experience, albeit digitally! Even from a distance, we can still create a space to nurture school readiness, a chance to build English language and coping skills, and most importantly, build community so they can thrive when they enter the public school system in the fall.

Lindsay and Gladys are part of a team of 9 Volunteer Teaching Artists who are introducing students to Visual Arts, Music, Storytelling, Filmmaking and Dance. Camp began this week so our team has been working hard to convert our lesson plans to a digital platform. We like to say that artists have a natural ability to be adaptable and think outside the box so our everyone is having a positive and memorable experience so far!

The Fellowship is a unique opportunity for individuals who closely model Jennifer’s values to use the arts to celebrate a young person’s strengths and build up their unique areas for growth. Through Gladys’ visual arts and Lindsay’s music classes, they will help youth affected by immigration status break down the barriers they face by building the skills they require to create a new life for themselves in their new home.

“I am very grateful to ASTEP and to the RYSA team for selecting me as one of the 2020 Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellows. I look forward to sharing and creating music and memories with the students at RYSA this summer, especially as we all venture together into the unknown of digital classrooms, exploring new capabilities and reimagining thoughtful, responsive, and impactful arts education.” Lindsay Roberts, 2020 Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellow

“This is really exciting! I’m thrilled to be receive this Fellowship honor. I find so many similarities between Jennifer’s mission in life and my own: bringing our passion of arts education to everyone and establishing meaningful relationships. I’m excited to work my 6th summer with the Refugee Youth Summer Academy teaching Visual Art this year and continuing to bring the power of the arts to my virtual classroom. ” Gladys Pasapera, 2020 Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellow

Sondheim benefit concert – watch it now!


We are grateful for the special collective of Angel Donors who matched the first $25,000 raised through this event!

Ben Whiteley
The Bisesto Family
Emily Grishman and Susan Sampliner
The Esposito Family

Jeffrey and Gheña Korn
Jim Jones and Joseph Langworth
Oda and Henry Sham
Sheri Sarkisian

Thanks to the incredible generosity of everyone who contributed to the Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration, ASTEP’s Arts Resilience Fund has raised $400,000 so far!

What has always made ASTEP unique is our ability to connect artists with community groups working in underserved communities. In this moment of crisis, our partners are serving youth who are navigating food scarcity, economic hardships and home safety, among a host of other issues. With these funds, ASTEP is immediately responding to the needs of these communities. In collaboration with the generosity of the Red Hook Container Terminal and the NYCEDC, ASTEP has helped to facilitate food donations to be delivered to our partner, Abraham House, in the South Bronx. The most recent donation of fresh fruit served over 900 families. There will be another generous food shipment reaching this community soon.

In this time of virtual learning, ASTEP is making sure the young people who have limited or no access to online platforms are not forgotten. We’re teaming up with teachers and schools to build English and Spanish arts packets that support social and emotional development and academic curriculum. We’re also reaching young people living with HIV/AIDS at the Incarnation Children’s Center, a pediatric residential facility, through virtual open mic nights to remind them that the ASTEP community loves and cares about them, even when we must remain physically distant. To build mindfulness and resilience, ASTEP is connecting artists around the world through live and prerecorded #artistathome series and professional development workshops.

Now more than ever, ASTEP is using the arts to create a space for healing, a platform for connectivity and an outlet to express ourselves. Serving these communities has been ASTEP’s primary mission for 14 years, and thanks to the Arts Resilience Fund, ASTEP will continue to be here for the needs of our students and our extraordinary partners, as we all learn to adapt to this precarious new reality. To contribute today, please visit



Sondheim benefit concert – watch it live Sun Apr 26 at 8PM ET!



We are grateful for the special collective of Angel Donors who matched the first $25,000 raised through this event!

Ben Whiteley
The Bisesto Family
Emily Grishman and Susan Sampliner
The Esposito Family

Jeffrey and Gheña Korn
Jim Jones and Joseph Langworth
Oda and Henry Sham
Sheri Sarkisian


April 24,2020

Additional star performances were announced today for the all-star special virtual concert in celebration of Stephen Sondheim’s 90th Birthday, “Take Me To The World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration“, this Sunday, April 26 at 8:00 PM ET. The free online event, hosted by Raúl Esparza, is set to take place on the exact 50th anniversary of the opening night of Sondheim’s musical Company (the original production debuted on Broadway on April 26, 1970). Watch it live on the YouTube Channel.

Annaleigh AshfordLaura BenantiMelissa ErricoBeanie FeldsteinJosh GrobanJake GyllenhaalNeil Patrick HarrisJudy KuhnLinda LavinLin-Manuel MirandaBen PlattRandy Rainbow, and Lea Salonga will perform songs of inspiration from the Sondheim catalog. This once-in-a-lifetime event will also feature special appearances by Victor GarberJoanna GleasonNathan Lane, and Steven Spielberg.

They are joining the previously announced artists, many who delivered iconic turns in Sondheim’s shows, including Meryl StreepBernadette PetersPatti LuPoneAudra McDonaldMandy PatinkinChristine BaranskiDonna MurphyKristin ChenowethSutton FosterBrian Stokes MitchellKelli O’HaraAaron TveitMaria FriedmanIain ArmitageKatrina LenkMichael CerverisBrandon UranowitzStephen SchwartzElizabeth StanleyChip ZienAlexander Gemignani and, from the cast of Pacific Overtures at Classic Stage CompanyAnn HaradaAustin KuKelvin Moon Loh and Thom Sesma.

Esparza, the evening’s host and producer, starred as Bobby in the Tony Award-winning revival of Company in 2006 and in the Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration productions of Sunday in the Park (George) and Merrily We Roll Along (Charlie) in 2002. He also headlined City Center’s Encores! productions of Anyone Can Whistle and last year’s Road Show.

“The world is in a hard place, and we are all searching for something great,” says Esparza. “Well, Stephen Sondheim is greatness personified. So, we’ve assembled a group of people who love Steve and have worked with Steve and have been inspired by Steve to sing his music and share some joy and some heartache together. We may be far from Broadway right now, but Broadway is never far from us. Besides, Stephen Sondheim turned 90. How many times do you get to be 90? 11? So come on, say it, get it over with, come on, quick…happy birthday.”

Directed by Paul Wontorek, Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration is being presented in support of ASTEP, the organization conceived by the event’s musical director, Mary-Mitchell Campbell, and Juilliard students to transform the lives of youth using the most powerful tool they had: their art. In times of turbulence and trauma, the arts provide a space for healing, a platform for connectivity and an outlet to express ourselves. They’re also crucial to the development of mindfulness, an important element of mental health, especially in times of struggle. More than ever, ASTEP artists are needed to create that space for the most vulnerable among us. In this current moment of crisis, the youth we serve are navigating food scarcity, economic hardships and home safety, among a host of other issues. Serving them has been the primary mission of ASTEP for 14 years, and with your support, the organization will continue to be here for the needs of students and partners as we learn to adapt to this precarious new reality.

“Sondheim shows us the depth of our hearts, the complexity of our minds, and all that it is possible to accomplish through his brilliant marriage of music and storytelling,” Campbell adds. “Artists Striving to End Poverty aims to make sure that all children living in challenging situations have the opportunity to be transformed by the making of art. In my personal experience, encountering Stephen Sondheim’s music has helped these children imagine an entirely different life and future for themselves. Linking Sondheim and ASTEP together during this very difficult time made perfect sense to us. Children and art.”




ASTEP’s March and April Professional Development webinars

During this unprecedented time, ASTEP is leaning into Adaptability – one of our four foundational pillars. We’re adding to our monthly Second Saturday Webinar Series by offering weekly, free professional development and networking opportunities for all of our trained and placed Volunteer Teaching Artists. These webinars focus on a variety of topics that best prepare Teaching Artists around the world to work with the young people ASTEP serves. Even cooler, we’ll have a variety of different presenters!

Please take a look below and let us know if you can join. Take good care of yourselves, and don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions, ideas, or desire for communication!

Sign up for as many as you like. We will send out reading, watching, and listening materials in advance so you can be best prepared.

  • Friday, March 27th from 3:00-4:00pm EST: ASTEP Artist Meet Up with Monique Letamendi
  • Saturday, March 28th from 5:00-6:00pm EST: Stay Sane Saturday with Mary-Mitchell Campbell
  • Monday, March 30th from 3:00-4:30pm EST: Lesson Planning for One-Off Workshops with Tiffany Ramos
  • Friday, April 3rd from 12:00-1:30pm EST: Making the Most of Digital Platforms with Marcus Crawford Guy
  • Saturday, April 4th from 5:00-6:00pm EST: Stay Sane Saturday with Mary-Mitchell Campbell
  • Monday, April 6th from 3:00-4:30pm EST: Activities Without Age Limits with Will Thomason
  • Saturday, April 11th from 10:30am-12:00pm EST: Using Art to Create Courageous Spaces with Juanita Castro-Ochoa
  • Saturday, April 11th from 5:00-6:00pm EST: Stay Sane Saturday with Mary-Mitchell Campbell
  • Tuesday, April 14th from 5:00-6:30pm EST: Working at the Speed of Trust with Mauricio Salgado
  • Friday, April 17th from 12:00-1:30pm EST: Mindfulness and Self Care with Lizzy Santiago
  • Saturday, April 19th from 5:00-6:00pm EST: Stay Sane Saturday with Mary-Mitchell Campbell