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Young Artists of America: Local Student Performers Go Beyond the Stage with New Grant

One of Catalogue for Philanthropy’s 2018-19 Best Nonprofits, Young Artists of America(YAA), has launched a new initiative thanks to a grant from Greater Washington Community Foundation’s Donors InVesting in the Arts (DIVAS) Fund. This initiative will run in tandem with YAA’s preparation for their spring production of Les Miserable–which will feature over 300 students and a full orchestra–on March 16th at the Music Center at Strathmore.

First combined rehearsal for Les Miserables at Youth Artists of America

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Titled after one of the most rousing songs in the score, YAA’s “Hear the People Sing!” project will examine the themes in Les Miserables to inspire students to make connections between the social challenges in Victor Hugo’s time and those in today’s world. Whereas young people during the French Revolution saw injustice between populations and classes and decided to take action through insurgencies, this project will empower YAA students to use non-violent means to identify the injustices seen both in Les Miserables‘ and in modern time, including immigration, class inequity, gender-based oppression, and imperfect justice. Peaceful methods of engagement and dialogue will be modeled by teachers and encouraged throughout the musical theatre rehearsal process, as well as throughout the social media component of the project.

Specifically, YAA artistic staff will lead student group reflection and social media journaling, primarily via Instagram posts. YAA staff will also create and post a “students voices” video of final lessons learned that will be made available on their YouTube channel, and an edited version displayed on screen before the performance to enable audience members to participate with as well. Community members can follow along with the project by searching #HearthePeopleSingYAA and #WhoAmIYAA on social media platforms.

“It is YAA’s hope that this project will deepen students’ understanding of the material we are performing, as well as spark additional dialogue among their peers about contemporary issues,” says YAA’s Artistic Director, Rolando Sanz. “We are incredibly grateful to The Community Foundation’s DIVAS.”

The final production on March 16th will take place at 3pm and tickets are on sale now. What will make this performance artistically unique will be the scope of this student collaboration, including a full 60-piece youth symphonic orchestra, Seneca Valley High School Chorus of 150, and 80 singers/dancers/actors from YAACompany and YAAjunior. www.yaa.org/spring-production.

 

The After-School All-Stars at Deloitte

Earlier this month, middle school students from John Hayden Johnson and Charles Hart took a field trip to the Deloitte office in Arlington, VA. This excursion was just one of many unique opportunities made possible by the After-School All-Stars Washington DC, a local charity that provides free after-school programs for low-income middle school students. The trip to Deloitte was part of the Career Exploration Opportunities Initiative, a program focused on exposing students to attainable and attractive career paths that they may not have been aware of, otherwise.

As the middle schoolers arrived at the Arlington office, they weren’t sure what to expect. They wanted to know, “What does it mean to be a consultant?” Because many of the students were (like most Americans) unfamiliar with Deloitte, they were eager to hear more about the company from the perspective of dedicated staff members. They were greeted by Maddie Devine, a Deloitte Business Technology Analyst who also graciously serves as the Event Lead for the After-School All-Stars. After a dinner provided by the company, students were given a full tour of the facility that included a breakdown of every department. Deloitte staff members spoke about their current projects, and the students were introduced to the newly renovated Deloitte Digital Studio.

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The tour culminated in a group activity where students were split into teams and presented with a mock case study, in which they had the opportunity to play the role of ‘Deloitte consultant’ for a notable client: Coca-Cola. The student groups had impassioned dialogues, and then submitted proposals on how Coke might expand its reach in global markets. Then, the groups had the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a few Deloitte staffers. Ranging from athlete endorsements, door-to-door product delivery services, new flavors, and even Coke-sponsored disaster-relief shelters in the developing world, the students’ ideas were amazingly creative and comprehensive. This exercise was impactful: it encouraged the students to be resourceful, to think outside the box, and it served as a wonderful conceptualization of what it means to work for an organization like Deloitte. All at once, the group understood what it means to be a consultant!

After-School All-Stars DC is privileged to have Jared Townshend, a Deloitte staff member, as an advisory board member. Jared acts as the official sponsor for ASAS DC within Deloitte, and is the Managing Director for the company within the Government and Public Services team. Together with Maddie, Jared sent the All Stars off in style with parting gifts, courtesy of Deloitte. Staffers posed for a photo with the group, and passed out hot cocoa as students left. The ASAS DC partnership with Deloitte has been characterized by the warmth and hospitality the students experienced on their field trip, and it is greatly appreciated.

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This trip to Deloitte exposed the All Star students to a career path worth aspiring to. The students left the office full of excitement, expressing admiration for the dynamic work that the consultants take on to meet client-needs. The students all saw themselves serving in similar roles in future careers, and said they’d be proud to work for the organization.

As always, ASAS DC will continue to provide these events to the students we serve. In this way, we will work to expand their worldview, increase their self-esteem, and help them understand the kind of success they are capable of achieving.