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

Volunteer Spotlight: Gladys Pasapera

This week, our Volunteer Spotlight is on Gladys Pasapera!


Why do you volunteer with ASTEP? ASTEP is a unique community of artists that feeds my creative + art teacher soul! I love ASTEP because it continues to open my eyes to the power of the arts and the endless possibilities for both teaching artists and students. It helps us teaching artists develop ways to foster safe and encouraging spaces for our young artists to develop confidence and communication skills through play and artmaking. Watching young people step outside the box and let go of their fears is a priceless moment to witness.

How long have you been volunteering with ASTEP?  Since Summer of 2009

What programs have you been a part of with ASTEP?  Art-in-Action (Florida) and RYSA (NYC)

What is your favorite memory from an ASTEP program?  I have so many memories! But I recently came across some old photos from a lost USB with memories from my first RYSA summer of 2012. I didn’t know what to expect and I had little experience with English Language Learners. I taught a few projects that I was taught in high school so we started with sketchbook prompts and then plaster hands representing the students. The high school students were so honest and willing to share their truths and feelings about coming to America, the camaraderie was so beautiful!! They were also very engaged with the entire process of getting messy and playing with plaster. They had to pair up and take turns covering their hands with vaseline and then laying plaster strips to cover their hands so the cast would slide off after it was dry. Only laughter and fun filled the classroom!

Thank you, Gladys, for volunteering with ASTEP! You exude grace in the classroom and we are lucky to join forces with you. We cannot do this work without you!

To learn more about ways YOU can get involved with ASTEP at the Refugee Youth Summer Academy, click here!

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



It’s a wrap — Refugee Youth Summer Academy 2014!

Led by a team of 8 Volunteer Artists, ASTEP delivered the creative arts classes at RYSA for a 5th summer! Classes on visual art, storytelling, dance, and music provided refugee youth with a creative space to develop artistic abilities, strengthen English language skills, build confidence, and transition to their new home.

A big shout-out to the stellar volunteers who help make this all possible: Tracy Einstein (Dance), Noele Flowers (Dance), Lauren Gentry (Theatre), Monica Iancu (Visual Art), Gladys Pasapera (ASTEP Program Facilitator/Visual Art), Heddy Lahmann (Theatre), Vaishali Sinha (Dance), and Callie Tepper (Dance).




Rocking out with refugee youth in NYC – RYSA Camp Blog!

Led by a team of 11 Volunteer Artists, ASTEP provided engaging creative arts classes during the Refugee Youth Summer Academy in partnership with the International Rescue Committee. 122 students experienced daily Visual Art, Story-telling, and Dance classes and on Fridays, took part in Field Trips to cultural locations in NYC, such as a special day at the Museum of Modern Art. The focus of ASTEP’s art programs are to provide refugee youth with a creative space to develop artistic abilities, strengthen their English language skills, build confidence, and transition to their new home.


ASTEP Volunteer Team

This fun video introduces you to our Volunteer Artist Team who dedicate their time and talent to the kids we serve! We couldn’t do this without them: Taylor Colleton, Max Freedman, Kelsy Henderson, Zoe Kumagai, Danielle McIntosh, Molly Page, Gladys Pasapera, Autumn Potter, and Anna Snapp.


Weekly Update


Weekly Update


Weekly Update


Weekly Update


Closing Video


Displaying the visual art portrait projects


Rehearsing the play that they wrote on their own!


Rehearsing the dance piece for the final performance!


Showcasing their large-scale artwork!

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.

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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