IBA Recognized by Michelle Obama for National Arts & Humanities Youth Program Award

IBA received the 2016 National Arts & Humanities Youth Program Award last month at the White House from First Lady Michelle Obama for its Youth Development Program.

The award, which was received on behalf of IBA by CEO Vanessa Calderón-Rosado and program participant Noemi Negron, recognizes the country’s best after-school and out-of-school-time creative youth development programs for using engagement in the arts and the humanities to increase academic achievement, graduation rates, and college enrollment. The 12 recipients—chosen from a pool of more than 251 nominations and 50 finalists—were also recognized for improving literacy and language abilities, communication and performance skills, and cultural awareness. In addition, IBA received $10,000 to support its services and engage more young people from the community.

“Arts programming and youth development are core parts of our culture at IBA, and we are honored to receive this award today from First Lady Michelle Obama,” said Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, CEO at IBA. “This service is crucial because it provides low-income young individuals a valuable opportunity they may not have otherwise, to grow and succeed in areas that they are passionate about.”

IBA’s Youth Development Program prepares people ages 13-19 for college and career through an employment-based plan that places them in rigorous courses centered on arts and civic engagement. Teenagers from underserved, urban communities throughout Boston are given the unique opportunity to develop leadership abilities, confidence, positive relationships, and job skills through participation in high-quality learning experiences. These workshops span multiple disciplines—theatre, spoken word, photography, printmaking, design, and dance—and are supported by a core focus on the humanities that is realized through meaningful community service. It is situated in the heart of the Villa Victoria, a vibrant affordable housing community in Boston’s South End.

Research shows that IBA has had a tremendous impact on participants’ development and growth. Data collected in the past year has shown positive academic advancement, with 100% of students moving to the next grade in school, and 100% of high school seniors graduating into a full-time college or a vocational school setting. Furthermore 96% agree that they were able to express their ideas and feelings more, 93% believe their work at IBA positively impacts others, and 96% reported an increase in their ability to work with diverse groups to create/problem solve. It has given these individuals a platform to express themselves creatively, and as a result they have performed on stages throughout the east coast, including poetry slams in New York City, Boston, and Atlanta, and in front of city officials at Boston’s Hibernian Hall, and placed in statewide poetry competitions.

“To be selected to go to the White House is extremely meaningful to me, and I am grateful for the opportunity to attend a ceremony with First Lady Michelle Obama, whom I admire because she is such an advocate for women’s rights,” said Noemi Negron, a sophomore at Boston Arts Academy. “IBA’s Youth Development Program has given me the ability to be creative and use different forms of art to express myself, and it has given me a sense of confidence that I will carry with me throughout my future.”

First presented in 1998, the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award is the signature program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH). The awards are presented annually in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

“These amazing programs prove how effective creative youth development can be in changing lives and communities,” said Megan Beyer, executive director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. “They’re improving academic achievement and contributing to high school graduation rates, and they’re providing the opportunity for young people to build the 21st-century skills they need to succeed in school and in life.”

Created in 1982 by Executive Order, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) is an advisory committee to the White House on cultural issues. The PCAH works directly with the administration and the three primary cultural agencies—the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)—as well as with other federal partners and the private sector, to address policy questions in the arts and humanities, to initiate and support key programs in those disciplines, and to recognize excellence in the field. Its core areas of focus are arts and humanities education, cultural exchange, and community revitalization. Mrs. Obama, like other first ladies before her, serves as Honorary Chairman of the committee, which comprises both private and public members.

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