Wednesday, October 20, 2010

With today’s awards from the President’s Committee on the Arts & Humanities, four D.C. organizations in last two years have been nationally recognized

For Immediate Release

Contact: Jenny Towns
Phone: 202-657-2595

With today’s awards from the President’s Committee on the Arts & Humanities, four DC organizations in the last two years have been nationally recognized for outstanding programs for the District’s youth

Washington, DC – The President’s Committee on Arts & Humanities announced this year’s award winners of The National Arts & Humanities Youth Program Awards (formerly known as the Coming Up Taller Awards) today, naming two more award winners from the Washington area; Mentors of Minorities in Education's Total Learning Cis-Tem (M.O.M.I.E.s TLC) and Young Playwrights’ Theater, following recognition of Sitar Arts Center and Higher Achievement in 2009. The award shines attention on outstanding programs across the country that are promoting the creativity of America's young people, providing them learning opportunities and the chance to contribute to their communities. Ed Spitzberg, Executive Director of Sitar Arts Center, said “The President’s Committee’s recognition of programs in one city – our nation’s capital – illustrates not only the great work done by afterschool arts and humanities programs in D.C., but also the great need for it.”

With over 170 awards given out nationally since 1998 and only three organizations in Washington, DC awarded during those first ten years, having four local organizations recognized in the last two years is notable. “We hope this award will draw attention to the documented fact that these DC-based programs are essential investments in the lives of our children and families,” said Chitra Subramanian Deputy Director for M.O.M.I.E’s TLC. All four awarded organizations are providing safe and productive after-school programs to young people in high-risk areas of the city where gang activity and violent crimes are high.

Higher Achievement’s rigorous after-school and summer academic programs give youth from at-risk communities their best opportunity to succeed in middle school – and in life. The program operates achievement centers in Washington, DC (Wards 1, 4, 6, 7, 8) and Alexandria, VA, and focuses on three key areas: academics, social skills, and leadership.
The mission of M.O.M.I.E's TLC is to nurture the genius of children through creative and culturally-relevant learning Programs. Focusing on early childhood and school-age children in Ward 1 and Ward 4, M.O.M.I.E’s offers year-round education Programs that uniquely integrate humanities and culture-based teaching.

Sitar Arts Center in Adams Morgan provides a vital after-school safe-haven at its multidisciplinary arts center where children and youth of all ages, 80% of whom come from low income households, can discover their inherent gifts in a nurturing, creative community.
Young Playwrights’ Theater in Columbia Heights teaches students to express themselves clearly and creatively, to understand the power of language and to realize their potential as both individuals and artists through the art of playwriting with interactive in-school and after-school programs.

With all four of these organizations operating within a mile and a half radius in the adjoining neighborhoods of Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights, their programs in that area are serving the same population, with crossover among students and teachers, including some direct partnerships. In the past three years since the recession began, enrollment at Sitar Arts Center alone has increased by 72%, demonstrating the urgent need for these programs, which are providing positive choices for the students of our city. “All of DC’s young people deserve the opportunity to learn, grow, and excel, and we’re proud to be in the company of organizations doing such essential work to make that possible,” said Richard Tagle, CEO of Higher Achievement.

While on-going attempts have been made to reform the DC public schools over the past decade, all of these organizations have been working to fill the gap left by public school education for ten years or more: providing high expectations, caring adult mentors, education in the arts and humanities, and opportunities to build self-esteem and skills. "As school administrations come and go, our programs have been a constant in students' lives. We help students grow into active, well-rounded individuals who can engage the world with their ideas" said David Snider, Producing Artistic Director and CEO of Young Playwrights' Theater. These four organizations, as recognized by the President’s Committee on the Arts & Humanities, are providing exceptional and imperative programs, forming a safety net of services in Ward 1 where they are clustered, in addition to other areas across the city where similar services are needed.


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