National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards

On Friday, November 22nd, First Lady Michelle Obama honored 13 after-school and out-of-school arts and humanities education programs for underserved youth. Hosted at the White House, the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards recognize exemplary programs that foster the creative and intellectual development of America’s youth through education and practical experience in the arts and humanities.

Michelle Obama, the honorary chair of the President’s Council on the Arts and Humanities, presented the awards in a White House ceremony. Each organization will receive $10,000. Among thirteen recipients, three were recognized as outstanding humanities-based youth programs.

Pearl Bailey Youth Program, Newport News Public Library System, Pearl Bailey Library (Newport News, VA) provides an extraordinary level of support for the youth of the Southeast Community in Newport News, where there is a high level of crime and more people living below the poverty level than any other area of the city. The library offers youth a variety of programs designed to expand their knowledge of literature and encourages participants to read for pleasure and personal interest. The Youth Leadership Program provides a weekly stipend to youth while they volunteer service learning hours through the library’s affiliation with the Wickham Avenue Alliance, for which it won the Virginia Public Library Director’s Award for an Outstanding Cooperative Program in 2010.

Project Discovery, Dallas Theater Center (Dallas, TX) for 26 years has partnered with area schools to engage students in its productions through a multi-layered, season-long approach. Through Project Discovery, students attend regular evening performances, together with adult patrons, of each main stage production during the school year. The project presents students with opportunities to explore the history, theory and criticism of the plays they attend.

Sadie Nash Leadership Project Summer Institute (Brooklyn, NY) delivers a rigorous multidisciplinary arts and humanities curriculum through a social justice lens for 130 low-income girls in New York City and Newark, NJ. This six-week program delivers outstanding outcomes in terms of transferable life skills: increased self-confidence, a critical analysis of the world, an understanding of how to give back to the community, and a commitment to working for social justice both now and in the future. Among the program’s achievements, a recent 10-year impact study of the group showed that 62 percent of former participants completed four years of college. Additionally, the program received an Excellence in Summer Learning Award from the National Summer Learning Association in 2010.