Get to know Lindsay Roberts, our new Director of Programs!

We are thrilled to welcome Lindsay Roberts to the ASTEP staff as Director of Programs!

Where did you grow up?
I was born outside of Chicago but grew up outside of Philadelphia so it’s all about soft pretzels and Wawa coffee for me!

Where did you work before joining the ASTEP team?
Prior to coming to ASTEP, I served as the Arts Education Program Manager and the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access Co-Manager at Young Audiences Arts for Learning New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania, developing and managing multi-disciplinary arts education programming that reached over 350,000 school children each year.

Do you have a background in the arts or teaching?
Definitely! I have been singing and a lover of the arts since I was five years old. Onstage, I am a musical theatre singer and actress. I began my professional career after graduating and soon after joined the Broadway First National tour of MEMPHIS, covering the starring role of Felicia Farrell. I also toured with the Broadway First National Tour of THE GERSHWINS’ PORGY AND BESS and was featured as the “Creole Love Call” singer on the NCL International Tour of Broadway’s After Midnight. Some of my favorite New York and regional credits include portraying Cindy Lou in Classic Stage Company’s New York Revival of Carmen Jones, multiple engagements at New York City Center Encores, The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Kristin Chenoweth’s National Tour (where I first met Mary-Mitchell!), the Kennedy Center, Signature Theatre, Baltimore Center Stage, La Jolla Playhouse, and Lincoln Center.

In my formal training, I earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Maryland in Opera/Vocal Performance with a concentration in Music Education and a Master of Science in Arts Administration from Drexel University. I have worked for many years as a teaching artist and arts administrator and I am also a Certified Diversity Professional through the National Diversity Council and specialize in culturally relevant arts education and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the arts sector.

What is the most challenging part of your work?
The balance. There are so many places where I believe the life-changing impact of rich arts education experiences are needed, but there is only so much capacity that one person or one organization has at any given moment. Determining where to focus resources can be a very challenging decision because your heart wants to be everywhere.

What is the most rewarding part of your work?
I love love love seeing the connection between great teaching artists and young people co-creating together. There is nothing better than being a part of the work in real-time.

What about working for ASTEP are you most looking forward to?
I love working with this team and I am so excited about the new direction for ASTEP. I look forward to new partnerships, greater impact, and bringing new and diverse voices into the learning spaces with young people.

What song best encapsulates your working personality?
I actually love working at night, in the quiet, when I can imagine project growth and expansion and think through the work without interruption. Because of that, and also because some of my earliest childhood music experiences come from hits of the 90s, I chose “Dreaming of You” by Selena.

Key lyrics that feel especially relevant when thinking about working from a passion-point are:

Late at night when all the world

Is sleeping

I stay up and think of you…

‘Cause I’m dreaming

Of you tonight

 

‘Till tomorrow

I’ll be holding you tight

And there’s nowhere in the world I’d rather be

Than here in my room

Dreaming about you and me

I can’t stop dreaming of you

(No puedo dejar de pensar en ti)

I can’t stop dreaming

(Cómo te necesito)

I can’t stop dreaming of you

 

UPDATE! Expanded Changemakers Scholarship Eligibility

UPDATE: We have now expanded our scholarship eligibility to students living anywhere in the US!

The ASTEP Changemakers Scholarship will award six $1,000.00 scholarships, each supporting a Black student who has demonstrated leadership and a commitment to social justice. This scholarship will support the recipients’ educational journey.

Eligibility- Must be a graduating high school/alternative school senior in the US. This scholarship may be used at an accredited college, university, vocational, or technical training program. Of the six scholarships, at least one will be awarded specifically for a student attending an HBCU (Historically Black College or University). Former ASTEP students are especially encouraged to apply.

Applicants must submit either a video or an essay to answer the question: How are you an agent of transformation toward social justice? Give specific examples from your life and personal beliefs.

Submission deadline: June 1, 2021
Winners will be contacted by June 14, 2021

If chosen, winners will be asked to share their story by submitting a photo and paragraph about how the funds were used to support their educational pursuits as their testimonies help promote the scholarship fund for future applicants.

CLICK HERE TO APPLY

New Additions to the ASTEP Staff

In this year of reflection and growth, we are thrilled to welcome two individuals into new roles within the ASTEP team: Alejandro Rodriguez and Kate Garst!


Some of you may know Alejandro, as he is a longtime ASTEPer, but please join us in welcoming him into his new role as ASTEP’s Deputy Executive Director!

Alejandro began his journey with ASTEP in 2006, at 18 years-old, as a volunteer teaching artist with the Art-in-Action (AIA) summer camp in Homestead, Florida, only half-an-hour south of where he was born and raised. After graduating with his BFA from Juilliard in 2009, he went on to coordinate both the AIA program as well as the Refugee Youth Summer Academy in Brooklyn, as well as contribute to nearly all other ASTEP offerings in a myriad of ways. In 2014, he inaugurated his own ASTEP program, the Artist as Citizen Conference (AAC), an immersive educational program that developed young artists by combining traditional arts classes and career skills workshops with speakers & panels on the subjects of citizenship, service & social justice. AAC was hosted at Juilliard  for six consecutive summers and positively impacted the lives of over 250+ young artists. He left New York in 2018 to pursue further experience in arts leadership, serving as the Associate Artistic Director of North Carolina’s premiere  professional theater company, PlayMakers Repertory. He returns to ASTEP in this pivotal time to work alongside its founder, Mary Mitchell Campbell, to help metabolize and activate the various lessons of 2020, and to assist in building a more dynamic, more inclusive, more sustainable foundation for ASTEP’s next 14 years of service.

“My journey at ASTEP has been, quite literally, from the bottom up. I’m excited to bring the solidarity I feel for all aspects of this organization — our superhero partners, our rockstar teaching artists, and of course, our incredible students — to bear on its continued evolution.” -Alejandro Rodriguez


Introducing Kate Garst, ASTEP’s new Director of Strategic Initiatives!

Where did you grow up? 
A proud Cornhusker, I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska.

Where did you work before joining the ASTEP team?
I’m departing The Atlantic Philanthropies which concluded its grantmaking of 8 billion dollars in September in alignment with the founder’s wishes to devote his wealth to the service of humanity. In the theatrical world, I worked with Jujamcyn Theaters, Stacey Mindich Productions, Korins Studio (formerly David Korins Design) and the Public Theater.

Do you have a background in the arts or teaching?
Theater has been an important part of my life since I was a child, and that passion fuels my professional life.

What is the most challenging part of your work?
I’ve never met a challenge I could walk away from.

What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Seeing the impact it has on people.

What about working for ASTEP are you most looking forward to?
Making an impact on the lives of children and their families. New York has been my home for 12 years, and I’m excited to join the ASTEP team who seeks to reach the children in our community through the arts.

What song best encapsulates your working personality?
All Together Now, The Likes of Us.

 

 

New Direct Relief Program: Filling the Food Gap

“You are all doing exactly what the title of your organization says that you are doing.
You are: “Artists Striving to End Poverty.”
– Judy Juster, Clinical Coordinator/After School Program Director at Abraham House

Direct Relief Program - Filling the food gap

We are excited to share the news that ASTEP has started a food distribution program, Filling the Food Gap, in partnership with the Red Hook Container Terminal and the NYCEDC. This program provides direct service, food distribution, to one of our partners Abraham House located in the South Bronx.

Over the past month, donations of fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, poultry, and meat have been delivered to support the students that we serve, as well as their families and the greater community. Many people who received food were excited by the quality of the food, as well as the fresh poultry and beef, as the majority of donations have been canned goods. With this program, we have been able to provide 3 deliveries of fresh food to over 1,800 people!

Check out this NY Daily News article that features Mike Stamatis, the owner of the container terminal, and the impact these donations have had.

To help us to continue supporting the needs of the communities we serve during this difficult time, please consider a donation to ASTEP’s Arts Resilience Fund.

Charitybuzz Online Auction Benefitting ASTEP: Bid Now!

Visit our Charitybuzz online auction to bid on once-in-a-lifetime virtual experiences and autographed memorabilia.

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Items up for auction include:

  • A personalized video message from Tina Fey, Sierra Boggess, Sabrina Carpenter, and more
  • Meet Jessica Vosk and Mary-Mitchell Campbell in a 30 Minute Video Call
  • Sing a duet with Erika Henningsen
  • 1 Hour Musical Theatre Coaching Session with Alexander Gemignani
  • …and more!

Click here to learn more

 

 

 

How to Help Our Partners During the COVID-19 Pandemic

We are grateful to partner with social service organizations that serve communities throughout New York, the US, and around the world. During this global health crisis, we have been in close conversation with our partners, and have compiled a list of ways to help. Each partner serves a unique population, which means they each have unique needs. Here are some ways you can support our partners at this time:

Incarnation Children’s Center (New York, NY)
Buy an item off their Amazon Wishlist
Make a Donation

WIN (New York, NY)
Buy an item off their Amazon Wishlists, arranged by site

Abraham House (New York, NY)
Our partner, Abraham House, is in need of:
-Fresh produce + meat
-Food for their pantry
-Donations for cell phone service so families can stay connected to their social workers
Email info@asteponline.org for more info.

Safe Horizon (New York, NY)
Safe Horizon is sharing resources related to COVID-19 and domestic violence.

Lutheran Social Services of New York (New York, NY)
LSS is taking this time to celebrate the unsung heroes of their staff on social media.

Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project (Bangalore, India)
Contribute to SB’s COVID-19 Sustainability Fund.

This is a living post and we will continue to update it as we receive new information from our partners. We are grateful to team up with organizations that are so thoughtful in the ways they serve their communities, and we will continue to help in any way we can. We are in this together!

 

Remote Lesson Planning: ASTEP Style!

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
— Margaret Mead

These days, in an ever-changing world, we need to be adaptable and creative. Luckily, we are an organization of ARTISTS!

Last week, we collaborated with one of our New York City-based partner organizations as they prepared to dive into the new world of remote learning. This particular partner serves children who have recently arrived at the US border without an adult family member and who are awaiting resettlement, and all of our programming with them is in Spanish. Together, we created a plan to integrate the arts into their remote learning model through a series of “homework packets”. Thanks to our amazing Volunteer Teaching Artists, we were able to put together packets focused on storytelling, movement, creative writing, poetry, and visual arts in just a matter of hours.

Find out what our Volunteer Teaching Artists had to say about the experience:

“Last week I had been talking to a friend about how I wished there was something I could do for those kids, and the universe answered with Lizzy’s text! It was a crazy moment of serendipity. We talked through what she was doing, and I was blown away by ASTEP’s efforts in making this homework pack come true. I went through a few ideas on the phone based on classes I have taught before, and we came up with one in a manner of minutes. I typed it out, and sent it along! My heart really goes out to these kids who are already experience so much turmoil, and uncertainty. Just glad I was able to help in some small way!” -Susanna Stahlmann, Volunteer Teaching Artist

“Last Wednesday afternoon, I received a call with an excited Lizzy on the other line. In usual Lizzy fashion, she had an idea, and sprung into action. She contacted me and others, and shared her idea: a virtual class, complete with worksheets and multi-level learning, to assist our partner organization as they navigate distance-learning with both the younger and older students. We brainstormed the best ways to provide materials, and I chose to take the advice of Lizzy and create a virtual Yoga/Movement lesson, by way of storytelling about the environment and the outdoors (something that at the time I didn’t realize how much I would want connection with). I excitedly searched Google for black-and-white coloring pictures of people in specific yoga poses. I came up with an outline for a story we could tell with our bodies, and questions to ask to dig deeper for each part of the story. As the 4pm deadline drew near, I realized that with my focus on the younger class, I hadn’t dug into a reflection portion of the class for the older individuals. Lizzy was collecting a variety of worksheets and lessons from many different people and needed to send it off to our partner, and so I collected myself and practiced what I was putting on the page. I reflected, I breathed in (“Inhala”), I breathed out (“Exhala”), and thought of what questions I was asking myself. With GoogleTranslate pulled up to check spelling of Spanish translations and a list of Sanskrit words in another tab, and with a gentle reminder from Lizzy about the time, the worksheet was complete, save an upside-down exclamation point or two. I didn’t know what anyone else was doing, but submitted and hoped our partner would be able to feel supported through this time. Minutes later, I received an email with all of the lesson plans that were made in those few hours, and I was amazed. There were hand-drawn diagrams, and many, many pages of activities, ranging from coloring and creating to writing and reflecting, and with all of them, a feeling of fun and play and art. I was amazed. I am amazed. I knew our group of teaching artists at ASTEP was top-notch, and this continued to prove what I already knew: when we work together and share, even during difficult times, beautiful things can blossom.” -Will Thomason, Program Facilitator + Volunteer Teaching Artist

Click here and here to see some of the worksheets!

 

Special Update

In response to the ongoing health crisis, all currently running ASTEP programs have been suspended until April 20, 2020. We will continue monitoring, communicating with partners, and adjusting the schedule accordingly. We are taking this time to provide additional professional development webinars for our network of Volunteer Teaching Artists, so that we can put our best foot forward when we are able to resume programming. Thank you for being an important part of the ASTEP family, and for your ongoing support and dedication to the communities we serve.

– Your friends at ASTEP