ASTEPers Community Mutual Aid Network

Dear ASTEP Community,

These are trying times. It’s more important than ever that we’re here for one another. This crisis is hitting all of us in different ways, and may continue to do so for a while.  There are many ways for us to support and be supported by each other as we move forward. Let’s figure out how best to serve each other and those around us.

*NOTE: This is not an official ASTEP program, but an effort among past and present ASTEPers to support our community.

What is Mutual Aid?

It’s showing up for each other. We all have needs. We also all have resources. Mutual aid is about finding ways for our collective resources to meet our collective needs. Right now we are all facing considerable challenges and may need help addressing them. 

  • Do you need groceries dropped off? 
  • Are you lonely/anxious/frustrated and need someone to talk to? 
  • Are you worried about paying bills or rent?
  • Does your family need something right now?

If I know anything about this community, I know we’re also searching for ways to be of service during this time. It may feel as though there’s little we can do, but even the littlest things can make a difference. 

  • Do you have the ability to safely run errands for others? 
  • Can you offer an online class? 
  • Would you like to share your art?
  • Could you extend financial assistance to someone who needs it? 

What Can You Do?

Fill out this form: ASTEPer Community Mutual Aid Form.

We’ve kept it simple: let us know what you need and what you have to offer. Of course we can’t promise that needs will be met or that offers will be accepted, but let’s see what we can do. You’ll also see a question about your connection to ASTEP. This isn’t about authentication, just an effort to be relational and share how we’re connected.


Looking out for each other also means being safe and limiting our social contact. Things that involve even minimal contact (drop-offs, etc.) will need to be handled very carefully and in line with medical guidance to limit the possibility of transmission.  We’ll have to get creative about how to hold each other up across distance. Good thing we’re creative people!

Other Resources For Mutual Aid

There are many localized mutual aid groups springing up in New York City and across the country. If you’re interested in how you can be there for your neighbors, check out these sites:

NYC United Against Coronavirus – Resources and Information

Mutual Aid NYC – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response

If you don’t live in New York, here is a national directory: 

Database of Localized Resources During COVID 19 Outbreak

Who We Are

We are two good friends and long-time ASTEPers who have worked alongside each other (and many of you) for 15+ years. We’re excited to invite you into this effort because we believe in this community and in our collective capacity for compassion and creative problem solving.

My name is Mauricio Tafur Salgado ( and in this moment I am divinely tormented +first gen born to proudly subversive Colombians with graduate degrees + brown skinned + aspiring bio-regionalist + cis-hetero + married + artist pursuing justice and healing through a decolonial framework. I come from the everglades watershed, my antepasados and a solid plate of my grandma’s arepas and buñuelos. I am one of ASTEP’s co-founders and I am grateful for all that I learned from and with our artists at Shanti Bhavan, Art-In-Action in Homestead, Teach for India, Ubuntu, Refilwe, IRC Refugee Youth Summer Academy, Young at Arts in Bronxville, The ICC in Washington Heights, The Artist as Citizen Conference and our College Chapters.

I’m Seth Numrich (, an actor/theatre artist living in Brooklyn. I’ve organized and volunteered with ASTEP for Art-In-Action in Homestead, ICC in Washington Heights, Young at Arts in Bronxville and the Artist as Citizen Conference. he/him/his. This document is a work in progress and will continue to be refined as this effort develops. If you have questions, suggestions, or want to help us manage this doc, email:




Volunteer Spotlight: Kelly Burns

This week, our Volunteer Spotlight is on Kelly Burns!

Why do you volunteer with ASTEP?
I volunteered with ASTEP because I loved their mission. Art education is so important, and art can be a powerful tool to grow community.

What is your favorite memory from an ASTEP program?
My favorite memory from this past summer is our first rehearsal with all of our sound equipment. After the last song ended they were best essay writing service jumping up and down with huge smiles. The students were able to hear what all of their practice and teamwork had turned into, and they were ecstatic to show everyone at the final performance.

Why is arts education important?
Arts education is important because it teaches confidence, empathy, creativity and imagination. The arts have the power to build the self esteem and spirit of a person, bring a community together, and inspire a greater world.

How has art impacted/inspired you?
The arts inspire me every day, from music that pumps me up in the morning to the great works of theatre that have changed my perspective on different issues. But most of all, the process of creating different types of art has brought me life long friends and colleagues and shaped me into who I am today.

What do you hope your students gain from your time with them?
When I work with students I want their biggest take away to be confidence. With ASTEP, many of the students I taught were sitting down with an instrument for the first time, and the first week of rehearsals I got a lot of “I can’t do this.” However, in the last few weeks we were having breakthroughs everyday. The best part of teaching is watching students work hard and achieve something they originally thought was impossible. I hope they learned that they are capable of anything.

What have you learned from your students?
This past summer my students taught me about community. My students ranged in age from 6 to 14 but they had no difficulty coming together and playing like a band. The younger students looked up to the older students, who found themselves in leadership positions. The community was incredible, as we had support from parents and other teachers from the first day of camp to the final performance. My students showed me just how much you can accomplish when you have the love and support of a community.

Any advice to share for new ASTEP volunteers?
My advice to future ASTEP volunteers is simply to have fun. If your students are working hard and enjoying themselves, then the art you create will reflect that.

Thank you, Kelly for your hard work and dedication! We could not do this work without you! 



Volunteer with ASTEP in NYC!

Every week ASTEP Volunteer Teaching Artists join the ASTEP on STAGE! Team to share their artistic power! ASTEP on STAGE! is a way for artists who have some time on their hands to contribute and volunteer with youth that have little to no access to the arts. ASTEP on STAGE! is a bridge to close the gap between artists and students! Together we focus on spreading the knowledge, imaginative power, and exploration of the world through the arts! 

Our programming runs year round with multiple partnering sites that focus on bringing Music, Dance, Visual Art, and Theatre to our communities all around New York City! You can find ASTEP working with amazing community organizations who offer a powerful support system and significant resources to underserved communities in Flatbush, East New York, Sheepshead Bay, Mott Haven, Harlem, and Washington Heights.

ASTEP partners with community organizations that are deeply committed to serving vulnerable and underserved communities throughout New York City, including youth affected by the justice system, immigration status, homelessness, HIV/AIDS, and systemic poverty.

As a Volunteer Teaching Artist you may find yourself leading a workshop in your specific artistic field, taking part in an exciting day of fun and games, or showcasing your astounding talents in an evening full of inspiring performances! Our ASTEP on STAGE! Volunteer Teaching Artists work to empower students throughout New York City to build life skills, learn to creatively problem solve, explore various art forms and activities, and find confidence in their voice and choice

LOCATION: Brooklyn, South Bronx, and Manhattan
People of color, LGTBQ+, those with disabilities, and anyone excited to work with us are STRONGLY encouraged to apply.
Training Provided.

Email Monique Letamendi at or call (212)921-1227 to learn more information!



Volunteer Spotlight: Michael Lunder

This week, our Volunteer Spotlight is on Michael Lunder!

Why do you volunteer with ASTEP?
I volunteer with ASTEP because volunteer work has always been a very important part of my life and I love the ASTEP approach to supplying volunteers that can help serve all kinds of local missions in various locations.

Why is arts education important?
Arts education is so important because it inspires creative thinking, problem solving, teamwork, self expression, and shows people the power of stepping out of their comfort zone and embracing new experiences and challenges!

What is your favorite memory from an ASTEP program?
Picking a favorite memory is nearly impossible, but I think one major highlight of my Shanti Bhagwan experience was watching the graduating class trying to learn how to waltz. We got to watch them grow from awkward and uncomfortable teenagers that were stumbling over each other’s feet into these blossoming, confident, young adults that held their chins high ready for anything the world had in store for them!

How has art impacted/inspired you?
Art impacted me as a teenager by giving me an outlet to express all of the feelings I was too shy to speak up about to anybody. It inspires me everyday to chase impossible dreams and follow my heart in every day situations, and it keeps the passionate fire burning inside of me.

What do you hope your students gain from your time with them?
I would truly hope my students feel empowered to find passion and happiness, gain self acceptance and feel self-worth from their time with me.

What have you learned from your students?
Every day as a teacher reminds me to embrace imperfection. It also reminds me how powerful love and kindness are, and reminds me that there’s always room for fun.

Is there any advice you would like to share for new ASTEP Volunteers?
I don’t think I’m in a place to give any advice, but I guess I’d just say to leave your mind and your heart open and embrace every moment!

Thank you, Michael, for making magic happen in our programs!
We could not do this work without you!


Volunteer Spotlight: Leila Mire

This week, our Volunteer Spotlight is on Leila Mire!

Why do you volunteer with ASTEP?
ASTEP is one of those special places where arts education and children’s needs are put at the forefront. I volunteer with ASTEP because I love the children and the team. The currency exchanged is through endless smiles, laughter, and creativity.

Why is arts education important?
In my opinion, I have the most important job in the world. Arts education stands for everything that makes a person a contributing member of society. I don’t just teach dance. I teach creativity, acceptance, culture, and teamwork.

What is your favorite memory from an ASTEP program?
My favorite memory from ASTEP was spending the summer in Elaine, Arkansas. The complete immersion of our team into the community allowed us to fully share ourselves with the culture in an organic, beautiful way.

How has art impacted/inspired you?
Art has shaped my life in every imaginable way possible. In literature, a bildungsroman, refers to a coming of age novel. A künstlerroman is a coming of age novel through the arts. I like to say that everyone has a bildungsroman. If you’re really lucky, you get to have a künstlerroman. I’m blessed to have a künstlerroman that has allowed me to learn, grow, and become who I am through the arts. Teaching allows me to share and contribute to other künstlerromans.

What do you hope your students gain from your time with them?
I hope students grow and become more creative, inspired, passionate people. I hope to ignite a fire in them that can’t be extinguished.

What have you learned from your students?
Smiles go a long way, fort night dances are here to stay, and creativity should never be kept at bay. 😉

Is there any advice you would like to share for new ASTEP Volunteers?
You’re never “just a teacher” or “just a performer.” That mindset is so limiting. The two inform one another. Learn everything. Be open. Give space and be ready for anything and everything to happen and if you’re lucky, it will.

Thank you, Leila, for making magic happen in our programs! We could not do this work without you!





Volunteer with us at Shanti Bhavan!

This Spring, we are sending a team of 12 Volunteer Teaching Artists to Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project in Southern India to deliver a multi-week arts camp that focuses on Music, Filmmaking, Dance, Visual Art, Storytelling, and Musical Theatre!

Each May, ASTEP Volunteer Teaching Artists travel to Shanti Bhavan Children’s project, a residential school for children in India’s lowest castes leading art-based classes and activities with students from 4th to 12th grade. The camp is full of community building activities, focusing on enhancing personal development and leadership skills. Camp activities range from shadow puppet shows of Shakespeare to face painting…and everything in between!  

ASTEP Arts Camp at Shanti Bhavan works to empower students to build life skills, share and experience various art forms and activities, and creating lifelong memories that will stay with them as they transition through life!


Dates: Mid-May – Early June 2020

APPLICATION DATE: February 15th, 2020

LOCATION: Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project (just outside of Bangalore)

WHO: You! All artists with a passion for making a difference!

People of color, LGBTQ+, those with disabilities, and anyone excited to work with us are STRONGLY encouraged to apply. 

Training Provided.

Room and board is provided by ASTEP and all Volunteer Artists

Email Monique Letamendi at or give us a ring at (212)921-1227 to learn more!


Come be a part of ASTEP’s longest partnership! 

 ASTEP is proud to partner with enFAMILIA – a community organization that builds healthy family relationships among immigrant, migrant, and farm worker communities of South Florida – for more than 15 years! ASTEP Volunteer Teaching Artists will join a local team to support a 4 week arts-based summer camp in Homestead, Florida! Camp activities have included everything from making ice cream to staging a mini-production of Annie to collaborating on amazing murals! An AIA camp day is a day full of fun! ASTEP Artists will lead classes and large group activities, assist in camp management, and truly be a part of the life of this Florida community. Being a part of this camp is an opportunity to be a part of a new family. Share your art, and share in the AIA love!


Dates: June 12 – July 13

Application Deadline: April 1, 2019

Location: Homestead, Florida

Who: You! All artists with a passion for making a difference!

People of color, LGBTQ+, those with disabilities, and anyone excited to work with us are strongly encouraged to apply.

** Housing, flights, and food are provided for all Volunteer Teaching Artists ** Email Sami Manfredi at or give us a ring at 212.921.1227 to learn more!

Volunteer Spotlight: Grace Canahuati

This week, our volunteer spotlight is on Grace Canahuati!

Why do you volunteer with ASTEP?
To engage in a positive and inspiring way with children who are in need of hope and artistic escape. Each time I teach a class I feel like we collectively regenerate. Words cannot describe what these vibrant children do for the soul and it’s my priority to provide them with joy. Every lesson I approach as if it’s the most important class I’m going to give.

How long have you been volunteering with ASTEP?
I’ve been volunteering since May 2017.

What programs have you been a part of with ASTEP?
Lutheran Social Services partnership with ASTEP where unaccompanied minors are given the magic and fun of the arts every Friday taught in Spanish.

What is your favorite memory from an ASTEP program?
When everyone is laughing, smiling, and creating art there is magic in the room. We are all transported to a place where anything can happen. Art heals.

Thank you, Grace, for volunteering with ASTEP! The uplifting hope you bring to the classroom leaves lasting memories in all those you teach. We cannot do this work without you!

To learn more about ways YOU can get involved with ASTEP on STAGE! In NYC, click here.

For all Volunteer Inquiries, email ASTEP’S Manager of Programs, Sami Manfredi, at

Volunteer Spotlight: Karina Sindicich

This week, our Volunteer Spotlight is on Karina Sindicich! Why do you volunteer with ASTEP? I volunteer with ASTEP for so many reasons!! ASTEP is such an incredible organization, and with the many groups that they reach out to, you can really feel the actual effect and benefit of our time together. But it isn’t just the youth I’ve worked with, (in Brooklyn, India, Harlem) but the other volunteers and staff create such a warm and loving community for each other!! You feel valued and loved as an artist and human, and you’re fully encouraged and supported to share the best of yourself in every moment!! ASTEP cares wholeheartedly about each community they work with and work hard on bringing artists that serve each community’s needs in the best way possible!! How long have you been volunteering with ASTEP? I have been lucky enough to be volunteering with ASTEP since April of [last] year! And I don’t think I’m ever gonna stop! 🙂 What programs have you been a part of with ASTEP? I have volunteered as a part of the WIN shelter programs, CASES program and I was honored to be a part of the Shanti Bhavan program in India of June [last] year! We were in SB for nearly a month, teaching all different kinds of arts programs for the graduation showcase! It was and always will be, one of the most treasured and life changing moments of my life! What is your favorite memory from an ASTEP program? There are so many!!! But I think one of the major highlights for me would have to be watching the graduation showcase in Shanti Bhavan [last] year. Watching the children perform in front of Dr. George, their teachers, family and friends was incredibly emotional for me! You see all these exceptionally bright, talented and beautiful children whom you’ve gotten to know so well over the last few weeks, and seen work so hard, be able to own their talent and shine so brightly in front of all their peers! It was truly something so special and I hold the experience very dear to my heart. I will never forget it! I hope to watch many more graduation showcases in the future 🙂

Thank you, Karina, for volunteering with us at ASTEP! Your warm, generous and positive energy makes everyone smile! We cannot do this work without you.

To learn more about ways YOU can get involved with ASTEP at Shanti Bhavan, click here.

For all Volunteer Inquiries, email ASTEP’S Manager of Programs, Sami Manfredi, at