Announcing the 2021 Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellowship Recipients

Morgan McGhee
Morgan McGhee
Zahra Budhwani
Zahra Budhwani

For a fourth year, ASTEP is honored to select two stellar Teaching Artists as recipients of the Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellowship for their work with ASTEP Arts at the Newcomer Youth Summer Academy 2021. We are thrilled to announce this year’s fellows – Morgan McGhee & Zahra Budhwani. 

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

Due to the current global pandemic, NYSA will be held virtually for the second consecutive year. Our incredible team of Teaching Artists, including Morgan and Zahra, have created a digital space that empowers young people with a sense of community, courage, and creative capacity. Through the arts, our Teaching Artists focus their lessons on nurturing English language and coping skills, as well as school readiness. 

The Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellowship is a unique opportunity for individuals who closely model Jennifer’s passion for utilizing the arts to celebrate a young person’s strengths and build up their unique areas for growth. With this fellowship, we honor Jennifer’s legacy by celebrating Morgan and Zahra’s outstanding contributions to the ASTEP classroom. 

 

 

 

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

 

Program Manager Tiffany Ramos Answers our Creative Activity Kit Questions

Tiffany Ramos holds up Creative Activity Kits

After hearing from our partners that the young people we serve were experiencing zoom fatigue from virtual learning, or had limited internet access, our Program Manger Tiffany Ramos crafted the Creative Activity Kits as a zero-technology solution. 

We asked Tiffany some questions about the Creative Activity Kits, and loved hearing their perspective on the initiative!

Why was it important to start the Creative Activity Kits initiative? 

It was important to start this initiative because at the very beginning of 2021 we were hearing from our partners how most children were experiencing zoom fatigue in virtual programming. Since school had shifted to virtual learning, some children had difficulties with access and navigation, and others were no longer feeling engaged through virtual workshops due to long hours spent in front of a device. As a result, we thought to take a zero technology approach to our programming and shift to something that engaged children more tangibly. Our Creative Activity Kits offered the magic and joy of an ASTEP classroom in lieu of in person classes, for now ASTEP classes and Teaching Artists take form in the art supplies and activity workbooks created and shared with children. Through this initiative we’ve been able to continue to bring play and social emotional learning through the arts to children throughout New York City who are more likely to have limited creative outlets. 

How do you think the kits have impacted the communities we serve? 

We have received a great amount of positive feedback from partners and children expressing how joyful children have been while completing activities and playing with their supplies. I think this initiative has had a great positive impact on the communities we serve. I know much of the supplies we have shared with children have been popular, then there’s the added bonus that students get to keep these kits making it that much more impactful. We are giving the gift of art and access to materials to fully participate in creative exploration. We hope that children get to use their supplies for the activities we provide as well as everyday entertainment and allow them the opportunity to continuously engage in creative play. 

What are your three favorite items in the Creative Activity Kits? 

My three favorite items have been a dance ribbon, because the movement is mesmerizing, and it just so happens to be one of the children’s favorite items as well. I’m also a huge fan of the play doh, because it’s a great molding tool and play doh is just so much fun to squish. My third favorite item is the spin drum because I enjoy percussion, I think it makes such an interesting sound to play with and I hope our students feel the same curiosity towards this fun noisemaker.

Any other thoughts?

While we have not been able to be onsite and share space together with children, our Creative Activity Kits have brought such excitement to our partners, students, and our ASTEP team. I think each month has been a fun mystery for our students as they receive new activities each month, and our Creative Activity Kits offer new ways for ASTEP to engage with our community. We have heard how appreciative our partner’s onsite staff members have been to have resources in the classroom for students to focus on while maintaining safety protocols. 

Click here to help us continue our Creative Activity Kits initiative.

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.


Donate!

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

Anonymous
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








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!

 

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

 

 

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

INQUIRE NOW!
TENTATIVE DATES: Ongoing
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 monique@asteponline.org or call (212)921-1227 to learn more information!