Crafting their story: creative arts with refugee youth in NYC

ASTEP Volunteer Artists Tajh Rust and Enora Paugam walk us through their class art project with our refugee youth students at Brooklyn International High School. The students worked on creating books about themselves and used prompts such as “I come from…” or “When I was a child…” or “Some day I will…”. The notion of Identity was explored throughout the semester.

Each day, the students had an opportunity to write in their books and were given specific material to use to illustrate their story. Watch the video for a complete look!

ASTEP believes that the adjustment period after a refugee or immigrant child’s arrival to the U.S. is critical to his or her successful adaptation to school and their new community. We use the arts to break down the barriers they face and strengthen the abilities they require to create a new life for themselves in their new home. In addition, our Volunteer Artists serve as trusted adult role models, mentors, and educators who guide refugee and immigrant youth in making healthy decisions about their futures.

+ Learn more about our arts program for refugee youth in NYC.

+ Interested in volunteering? Visit our Get Involved page today!

Saturdays filled with creative arts

ASTEP Volunteer Artists Susanna Brock, Dani Lencioni, and Gladys Pasapera talk about the projects their students worked on during the Saturday Learning Series, a combination of visual art classes for children who participate in the IRC Refugee Youth Program (RYP). ASTEP has been providing arts classes through RYP for over three years and has loved watching the students and volunteers grow together.

Kennedy Center scholarship recipients reflect on their ASTEP experience

This year, The Kennedy Center and ASTEP awarded two (2) scholarships at the Kennedy Center American College Theater National Festival for students to participate, fully-funded, in one of ASTEP’s programs in the U.S. and around the world. This year’s recipients were playwright Louisa Hill and actor, Michael Pfeiffer. Check out their updates: 


Louisa is currently volunteering in our program in Quito, Ecuador through partner organization, Project CREO, where we provide in-school and after-school art programs for at-risk youth living in the Central Historic District of Quito.

“Greetings from Quito! I’m writing to extend an enormous thank you…for the grant to work with Artists Striving to End Poverty. I arrived in Quito several weeks ago to work with CREO Arte, an organization that seeks to inspire and empower kids through artistic expression. I’ve been honored to be a witness to the important work CREO Arte is doing and to make global connections with so many others who see the importance of art education. I hope that this is the start of many other collaborations with them and with ASTEP.

Thank you for recognizing the important work that ASTEP is doing and for offering me the chance to join them. I’m immensely grateful for this opportunity.”


volunteered this summer in our Art-in-Action summer camp in south Florida, through partner organization, enFAMILIA, where we provide a six-week arts summer camp for immigrant and migrant youth.

“Volunteering with ASTEP and Art-in-Action this summer truly was life changing for me. ASTEP prepares you to ‘learn as much as you have to give,’ and I feel as though I learned a lot more than what I gave to the youth we worked with. … Many of the kids I worked with had amazing and troubling journeys, and Art-in-Action gave them a chance to dance, sing, act, and paint out their stories. It became a way of expressing and bonding in a very safe and nurturing environment. You as the volunteer artist become a vehicle for all of the youth to play, discover, and grow through the arts.

I would recommend any passionate artist, no matter what your discipline, take the time to experience what ASTEP has to offer. It sincerely is one of the most challenging and gratifying experiences of a lifetime.”




ASTEP Volunteer Artists star in new Broadway play

ASTEP is proud to give a shout out to Dion Mucciacito and Seth Numrich, two of our amazing Volunteer Artists, who are both starring in the Lincoln Center Theater’s Broadway revival of Clifford Odet’s Golden Boy. Read the Playbill article below:

Clifford Odets’ Golden Boy, Starring Seth Numrich, Tony Shalhoub, Danny Burstein, to Play the Belasco

By Adam Hetrick
08 Aug 2012

Tony Shalhoub, Danny Burstein,Jonathan Hadary, Daniel Jenkins and Seth Numrich will star in Lincoln Center Theater’s Broadway revival of Clifford Odets’ Golden Boy, which begins previews Nov. 8 at the Belasco Theatre.

Tony Award-winning LCT resident director Bartlett Sher (South Pacific, The Light in the Piazza, Women on the Verge…), who also helmed the 2006 revival of Odets’ Awake and Sing! for LCT, will stage Golden Boy. Opening is Dec. 6.

The Belasco is where LCT presentedAwake and Sing! as well as its musical adaptation of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown in recent seasons. The Judy Garland play with music, End of the Rainbow, will end its run there Aug. 19.

Numrich, who originated the role of Albert Narraccott in LCT’s Broadway production of War Horse will take on the central role of Joe Bonaparte. He is joined by Shalboub (Lend Me A Tenor), Burstein (Follies, South Pacific), Hadary (Awake and Sing!, Gypsy), Jenkins (Big River), Michael Aronov (Blood and Gifts), Bill Camp (Death of a Salesman), Sean Cullen (South Pacific), Dagmara Dominczyk (The Violet Hour), Ned Eisenberg (Awake and Sing!), Brad Fleischer (Coram Boy), Karl Glusman (Seagull), Danny Mastrogiorgio (Stunning), Dion Mucciacito (Apple Cove), Lucas Caleb Rooney (Henry IV), Yvonne Strahovski (Finn City) and David Wohl(Dinner at Eight).

Additional casting is expected.

According to LCT, “Golden Boy is the story of Joe Bonaparte (to be played by Seth Numrich), a young, gifted violinist who is torn between pursuing a career in music and earning big money as a prize fighter.”

The production will have will have sets by Michael Yeargan, costumes by Catherine Zuber, lighting by Donald Holder and sound by Peter John Still and Marc Salzberg.

Tickets will go on sale Sept. 23 at or at A limited number of tickets priced at $32 are available at every performance through LincTix, LCT’s program for 21 to 35 year olds. For information and to enroll, visit

Click here for the complete article.


What’s Kendal up to in Quito? Project CREO updates.

Our longtime volunteer, Kendal Sparks, has arrived in Quito, Ecuador as the first ASTEP Volunteer Artist to support our new partner, Project CREO. Check out Kendal’s video updates about his first few days on the ground! We’re excited to introduce ASTEP’s mission and vision to the community in Quito and thrilled to work with the amazing Project CREO.


The volunteers’ accommodations are in this beautiful plaza!

Check out this video about Kendal’s first day volunteering at Project CREO


The children take part in a visual art activity


The Project CREO team!


A video about a typical day at Project CREO

A visual art exercise

ASTEP Volunteer Artist, Kendal Sparks, with Project CREO students


Keeping cool at the Refugee Youth Summer Academy. Updates!

Let the good times roll!

We’re happy to announce that the 2012 Refugee Youth Summer Academy (RYSA) launched last week and that we have a stellar team of Volunteer Teaching Artists in place. This is ASTEP’s third summer providing performing and visual arts programming for all student levels at RYSA, which is a program of the International Rescue Committee’s Refugee Youth Program. As program partners, ASTEP and IRC aim to support the personal growth, cultural adjustment, and education of multicultural refugee youth and help them successfully transition into the US school system. Stay tuned for updates!


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Art-in-Action 2012 Camp Blog!

Hey everyone!

Welcome to our Arts-in-Action 2012 camp blog!

We are super excited about all the things that are going down this summer. Through this blog we can keep you all updated on performances, projects, and the daily happenings here in Homestead, Florida. There’s some beautiful creativitiy happening, and this is our way of sharing it with you all.

As a team, the volunteers and on site administrators came up with a mission statement using individual goals that represents what we hope to accomplish with the campers while we are here:

We, Arts in Action, will strive to use artistic creation to share, inspire, and supoport the lives in this community and beyond. This mission of embarking on a new journey has been at times intimidating, but together we work hard each day to make sure that these campers gain a rich understanding of what it means to be entrenched in the arts.


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Week 6 – Final Week 

ASTEP launches new partnership with Project CREO in Ecuador!

Visual and Performing Artist opportunities with Project Creo in Quito, Ecuador!

ASTEP is currently recruiting volunteer artists year-round for multi-week or multi-month commitments to work with students of all ages at Project CREO in Quito, Ecuador. Volunteer artists will be working in a beautiful creative arts facility and in the public school system in the heart of Ecuador’s capital city, bringing arts education to children in the community. Applicants can expect to be working along side the staff of Project Creo 5 days a week and 7-8 hours a day. Applicants are responsible for fundraising the cost of transportation to and from Quito, room/board, and food costs, and must be at least 21 years of age. Applications are now being accepted.

Fill out our inquiry form to learn more!

Want to find out more about our partnership with Project CREO?

Check out one of our volunteer’s blog on their experience in Quito!


Kristen Chenoweth shares her love of ASTEP!

In rehearsals for her big 2012 concert tour, Kristen Chenoweth shares her love of ASTEP in this video with Mary-Mitchell Campbell, ASTEP’s founder and executive director, who also happens to be the music director for the tour!

Kristen has been a long-time supporter of ASTEP, joining our Honorary Board and sharing our vision of using the arts to transform the lives of children worldwide. Thanks for all the support, Kristen!



Who we are: a video snapshot!

A huge thank you to Yazmany Arboleda, an ASTEP volunteer and multimedia artist extraordinaire, for creating this colorful and enthusiastic video highlighting our programs over the years. For some of you, this will be a trip down memory lane since some of the images captured here are from the very beginning of ASTEP! Enjoy!!

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