Breaking News: ASTEP responsible for rapid and widespread arts epidemic


BREAKING NEWS: In classrooms all around the world, a powerful epidemic is spreading rapidly at an unprecedented rate. ASTEP Volunteer Teaching Artists, staff, and supporters are single-handedly responsible for spreading the arts to almost 4,000 students just last year alone. Reporters embedded within ASTEP say they’re just getting started and won’t stop until every kid on the planet grows up with meaningful access to the arts. If ASTEP receives the support it’s looking for, there might come a day when no kid on the planet will be safe from the life-altering effects…of art.

We caught the bug, now help us spread it!
Donate to ASTEP



Purchase NYC Christmas, an Album Benefitting ASTEP!

Celebrate the holidays with your very own copy of New York City Christmas: A Benefit Album for ASTEP!

Conceived, produced, and music directed by Drama Desk-nominated orchestrator Lynne Shankel (Cry-BabyAltar BoyzAllegiance), this album features Broadway’s best singing fresh, original approaches—pop, soul, R&B, rock and more—to your favorite holiday classics, along with original songs that will get you in the holiday spirit!

New York City Christmas: A Benefit Album for ASTEP is a special labor of love created by the incomparable music director, orchestrator and arranger Lynne Shankel (Allegiance, Bare, Altar Boyz, Cry-Baby). This album features Broadway’s best singing fresh, original approaches—pop, soul, R&B, rock and more—to your favorite holiday classics, along with original songs that will get you in the holiday spirit! Each December, Lynne brings together some of the best musicians and singers in the Broadway to perform the album at the cozy and intimate Joe’s Pub in downtown Manhattan. Tickets on sale for the Dec 9, 2019 performance!

The album includes song sung by: Tony Winner Lindsay Mendez (Carousel, Wicked, Godspell, Everyday Rapture), Tony Nominee Raul Esparza (Company, Speed the Plow), Tony nominee Orfeh (Legally Blonde, Saturday Night Fever), Tony Nominee Andy Karl (Groundhog Day, Wicked, Altar Boyz, 9 to 5), Sierra Boggess (School of Rock, Master Class, The Little Mermaid), Chester Gregory (Sister Act, Dreamgirls, Cry-Baby), Sally Wilfert (Make Me A Song, Assassins, Tom Sawyer), recording artist Anya Singleton, David Josefsberg (The Prom, The Wedding Singer), Tony nominee and “American Idol” star Constantine Maroulis (Rock of Ages), Drama Desk nominee Tyler Maynard (Altar Boyz, Mamma Mia) and many more!

The album is available on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, and Ghostlight Records.

To mark the tenth anniversary, a newly recorded single “All I Want For Christmas Is You” performed by Telly Leung (Aladdin, In Transit, Allegiance), has been added to the album, which joins added singles “I Got All I Need (This Christmas)” an original song written by Lynne Shankel and Jon Hartmere sung by Lindsay Mendez and Derek Klena and a hip-hop version of “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas” (music by Shankel) sung by Aurelia Williams (Once On This Island, In Transit)Kenita Miller (Once On This Island) and Kay Trinidad (Little Mermaid) based on the traditional poem.

For additional singles, click HERE and HERE.

All proceeds from album sales support ASTEP’s mission of connecting performing and visual artists with youth from underserved communities in the U.S. and around the world. Through after-school workshops and summer camps, ASTEP uses the arts to give youth the skills they need to become the best versions of themselves. Purchase your copy today and celebrate the transforming power of the arts!


Get to know our new Development and Communications Manager, Dorienne “Dorie” Brown!

We would like to extend a very warm welcome to the newest member of the ASTEP staff, Dorienne “Dorie” Brown! Get to know Dorienne in the interview below:

Where did you grow up? Inglewood, California.

Where did you work before joining the ASTEP team? I have eight years of experience working with nonprofits. Prior to joining ASTEP I worked with a supportive housing organization assisting one of NYC’s most vulnerable populations move off the streets and one with life! Before that I worked with Dwana Smallwood Performing Arts Center, helping to produce the MAMA Festival (More Arts, More Alive Festival) and with the New York International Children’s Film Festival as a Development Assistant.

Have you been onsite with any ASTEP programs? Which ones? RYSA Graduation and ASTEP Circle of Support Carnival Day. Attending both of these events was incredible! It was exciting  to see the impact ASTEP has in the New York City community.

Did you have a background in the arts or teaching, when you started? My background is in the performing arts and working with arts organizations. I grew up doing theater. My experiences as a performer was instrumental in exposing me to different cultures.

What is the most challenging part of your work? I guess it would be explaining to people that development is not only about fundraising money but building long lasting relationships with donors who truly believe in the organization’s mission.

What is the most rewarding part of your work? Introducing the organization to new people. People are always amazed at how far ASTEP’s reach is. I love when they ask for more information on how they can become involved in supporting. I also love working with our volunteers.

What do you look forward to, each day, working at ASTEP? My ASTEP team! I love that my colleagues are so welcoming and we all are very passionate about the work we do.

What song best encapsulates your working personality? “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire. I grew up listening to this song and at every family function or party everyone was on the dance floor. It’s a happy song that brings people together. You can’t help but dance. It makes everyone feel good. That’s me at work! Upbeat, friendly and happy. We spend more time at work than with our families in some cases, so it’s important that my place of work is a happy place, at least 85% of the time.

Thank you to our 2019 Summer Volunteer Teaching Artists!

We are so grateful for our team of Volunteer Teaching Artists, who work endlessly to bring transformative arts experiences to the children we serve. Thank you for making our programs possible this summer!

ASTEP on STAGE! (June 1-July 10):
– Marcus Crawford Guy
– Will Thomason
– Mariana Fresno
– Maria Kowalski
– Angela Joy Morgan
– Ali Dachis
– Susanna Stahlmann
– Tiffany Ramos
– Grace Canahuati
– Becky Baumwoll
– Gabby Serrano
– Esme Lytle

– Kaveh Haghtalab

Shanti Bhavan:
– Marcus Crawford Guy
– Rosco Spears
– Lindsay Roberts
– Morgan McGhee
– Emily Kindred
– Evangel McVicker
– Caity Gwin
– Austen Bohmer
– Stephanie Hyde
– Michael Lunder

– Marissa Palley Aron
– Brigid Transon
– Jordana Rubenstein-Edberg
– Tyrone Osborne-Brown
– Leila Mire
– Kretel Krah
– Tiffany Ramos
– Ruhi Radke
– Meg Smith
– Juanita Castro-Ochoa
– Aaron Rossini
– Jasmeene Francios
– Anna Falvey
– Catt Melendez
– Maya Sokolow
– Raymundo Gutierrez
– Rachel Keteyian

– Adriana Ochoa
– Kelly Burns

Arkansas Pilot Program:
– Nate Rothermel
– Susanna Stahlmann
– Morgan McGhee

– Yazmany Arboleda
– Thembile Tshuma
– Stella Boonshoft
– Ryan Kim
– Violet Mmbidi
– Stompie Selibe
– Victor Geraldo Colon
– Roelf Daling
– Will Macadams
– Mosoeu Ketlele
– Kedren Spencer
– Thapelo Keorapetse Pule
– Lizzi Gee
– Shawn Mothupi
– Thembeka Mavuso
– Dumisani Khanyi
– Elia Monte-Brown
– Lorraine Ketlele
– Alannah O’Hagan
– Danny Mefford

Welcome new ASTEP staff member, Meg O’Brien!

We are thrilled to introduce you to our new Director of Development, Meg O’Brien! Please join us in giving a warm welcome to Meg!

Where did you grow up?
Dorchester, Massachusetts

Where did you work before joining the ASTEP team?
I’ve been working in the non-profit/development sector for the past three years in NYC. I ran a development department for an inner city DOE high school in East Harlem and then moved to a global NGO start-up.

Have you been onsite with any ASTEP programs? Which ones?
In the summer of 2010, I volunteered as a music teacher through the ASTEP at Refugee Youth Summer Academy. I loved it. It was one of the best volunteer experiences that I’ve ever had and am still friends with my co-teachers all of these years later.

Did you have a background in the arts or teaching, when you started?
I went to school for musical theatre in NYC and then theatre in London, pursuing that career in NYC for about 10 years. Received a degree in music from The Berklee College of Music, but switched focus to public health/human rights work after time spent volunteering and working in Zambia. At my core I will always be an artist and approach whatever work I do, in a creative way.

What is the most challenging part of your work?
I think a lot of people think fundraising is just asking people for money. I believe development work is building relationships with people. Trying to figure out who believes in the mission of the work and then allowing them to get excited that they can be a part of the process and ultimately helping to guide them to a place where they feel comfortable to support in a variety of ways.

What is the most rewarding part of your work?
When I’m able to share the story of the important work that ASTEP does to a new supporter and they are excited to become involved.

What do you look forward to, each day, working at ASTEP?
The ASTEP team has been great. Everyone brings such a high level excitement and work ethic to their roles, that it feels contagious.

What song best encapsulates your working personality?
I love “Drive” by Ben Rector or “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman. I’m not sure that they encapsulate my work personality, but I can definitely listen to them on repeat while I work!


The Colors of Summer


Thanks to your generosity, we raised over $20,000 in just 2 weeks!

This summer, ASTEP is giving 1,267 students the opportunity to express their voices and explore their creativity through music, dance, storytelling, visual arts, filmmaking and creative writing.

ASTEP has been delivering the transformative power of the arts for the past 13 years, led by 1,314 Volunteer Teaching Artists who have served 15,548 young people in the U.S., Central and South America, India, and South Africa.

Wherever there’s a child growing up without meaningful exposure to the arts, ASTEP is there.

 Thanks to your generous support throughout our Colors of Summer campaign,
we are able to continue this dynamic work.

Because of YOU, our dedicated supporters, we are building an engaged community in which all of our students can learn and grow, regardless of personal circumstances, such as homelessness, immigration status, involvement in the justice system, or HIV/AIDS.

Thank you for giving our students a summer of COLOR and CREATIVITY!

Get to know our Manager of Programs, Sami Manfredi!


Read the interview below to find out more about our rockstar Manager of Programs, Sami Manfredi!


Where did you grow up? 

Fresno, California.

Where did you work before joining the ASTEP team? 

Before joining the ASTEP team, I had the honor of working for a few different arts organizations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. I was Artistic Director for The Audacity Performing Arts Project, Inc., Program Manager for the Arts for Social Justice Program at Santa Clara University, and I taught dance classes at a High School and a Dance Studio in San Jose, CA! 

Have you been onsite with any ASTEP programs? Which ones? 

Yes! I absolutely love to be on site with ASTEP programs! I am proud to say that I have been on site at all of the current ASTEP programs except one (and hopefully I will get there sometime soon!). I recently got back from teaching at Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project in India, and it was such a beautiful and life changing experience. All of the ASTEP programs continue to inspire me and I learn more about each one of them every day! 

Did you have a background in the arts or teaching, when you started? 

Yes I did! I started in dance classes when I was about 3 years old, and I was hooked ever since! I studied Theatre and Dance in college and am a Musical Theatre performer, and through that I found my vocation to teach and share my joy for the arts with those around me – especially children. 

What is the most challenging part of your work? 

I would say that a challenging part of my work is balancing and coordinating schedules of all our teaching artist teams and volunteers. It is a beautiful challenge to have because we have a vast pool of artists with different backgrounds/jobs/expertise, which allow us to put together the best possible teams for our students – but it does call for extra attention to detail and putting my schedule puzzle solving skills to the test!

What is the most rewarding part of your work? 

The most rewarding part of my work is seeing the smiles on all of the faces of the children we work with. Nothing can beat that pure joy! Everything we do is for the kids, and watching them discover their own greatness through our workshops and programs will always be the icing on the cake!

What do you look forward to, each day, working at ASTEP? 

Everything! From the moment I walk through the ASTEP office door, I am overwhelmed with the love and passion our community has for using arts to make a positive difference in the world. I am continuously inspired by the new volunteers I get to talk to each day, and I am constantly reminded of all the people in this world who are fighting to make a positive difference by sharing their heart/art. 

What song best encapsulates your working personality? 

If I had to describe my work personality in a song, I would choose “A Spoonful of Sugar” from Mary Poppins. Not only does this song put a smile on my face, but I think it describes my work personality and how I approach life in general. “In every job that must be done there is an element of fun!” 




Singing You Home – A Benefit Album

Artists Striving to End Poverty is so proud to be a part of this new project –Singing You Home.

Produced by Laura Benanti, Mary-Mitchell Campbell & Lynn Pinto, all proceeds of this bilingual album of lullabies will be donated to RAICES & ASTEP. We hope you will join us in supporting these children and families, separated at the southern border of the United States. Learn more here.

Click here to pre-order the album.