Our 1st Annual Birthday Soup is fast approaching! SoupGrant Lansing will be celebrating turning a year old before you know it!
As we talked about marking our birthday, we decided that we would like to bring back some past winners. We regularly try to bring back past winners to talk about what they have been able to accomplish since winning SoupGrant, but we wanted to take it a step further by giving them the chance to compete for a second SoupGrant. Back in June, we sent out e-mails, and Tweets and Facebook posts letting past winners know that they could re-apply. We had decided to limit the number of contestants to three and we received word from three past winners letting us know that they were interested!
As we approach August 21, we want to take a look at our returning contestants. Last week we put the spotlight on The Food Systems Project and earlier this week, we took a closer look at the Kids’ Farm Stand Fund. Now we turn to our third and final contestant, D.A.N.C.E.!
D.A.N.C.E. - Developing And Nurturing Community Empowerment
Describe your project.
D.A.N.C.E. is a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization dedicated to impacting the lives of youth, their families, and their communities through the performing arts. Our goal is to provide affordable high quality arts training to youth ages 3-18 from all socioeconomic groups. At D.A.N.C.E., we believe in training the whole individual; all of our participants, who are referred to as S.T.A.R.S. (Students Taking Active Roles in Society) are held to a high standard in a fun, family like environment. Our Dance Training Programs provide our S.T.A.R.S. with rigorous, quality training in multiple styles of dance. In 2009, after recognizing the need to provide pre-professional performance opportunities and training to our advanced participants, we started S.T.A.R.S. Dance Company (SDC), a national award winning dance team comprised of dancers ages 5-18. Members of the SDC have been able to travel across the country to train and compete without financial barriers. Besides just training in dance, our S.T.A.R.S. are provided with free academic coaching to help them maximize their academic potential and are encouraged to become active within their community through community service opportunities. Since being founded in 2007, we have never turned a child down due to the financial status of the family.
How will you use the money from your SoupGrant?
SOUP grant funding will allow us to continue to make the program accessible to all of the youth in the community who are interested. The funding will assist with making sure that all of our participants have the proper dance wear and equipment that they need to participate in the program.
Why is this project important?
95% of our Lansing Program Participants require financial assistance in order to participate, many of which come from homes where the family income is below the Federal Poverty Level. This project is important for the Lansing Community because it provides the youth with opportunities that they would not otherwise have access to. The benefits of arts programs for youth are widely known and we seek to ensure that the youth of Lansing have access to these benefits. According to a report by the National Endowment for the Arts, “The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies”, at-risk students who have access to the arts in or out of school also tend to have better academic results, better workforce opportunities, and more civic engagement. We hope to provide the youth of the Lansing Community with the opportunity to engage in a supportive arts training environment that will not only help them to grow artistically, but will prepare them for the future through an engaging curriculum which is infused with educational enrichment and character development.
What is the time frame for your project? Who/how will you be accountable?
Our program runs from September through June. We will hold a final performance that is open to the public in June. We would be happy to provide pictures and videos of the participants highlighting their progress over the season and/or give an oral presentation. We would also be happy to have our participants perform at one of the SOUP events if space will allow.
Tell us about yourself!
My name is ChaDorea Robinson and I am the Founder of the D.A.N.C.E., Inc. Program established in 2007. D.A.N.C.E. stands for Developing And Nurturing Community Empowerment. While attending Michigan State University and working with many youth throughout Lansing, (i.e. Parks and Recreation, Day Care Centers, Juvenile Homes). I realized that there were a lot of youth that were very talent and had an interest in performing arts. They always mentioned how they wish they could train in something they loved to do but never had the family or financial support. My passion for performing arts, youth, and my desire to invest in the Lansing community has led me to create D.A.N.C.E., Inc.