Artists Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP) connects visual and performing artists with underserved youth to awaken their imaginations, foster critical thinking, and help them break the cycle of poverty. Their arts programs motivate kids to improve in school, make healthy choices, and develop critical skills such as teamwork and innovation.
ASTEP was conceived by Broadway Musical Director Mary-Mitchell Campbell and Juilliard students with the goal of transforming the lives of youth using the most powerful tool they had—their art. They have shaped their organization around the belief that access to the arts is essential to children’s academic and social success.
We’re not training kids to become artists, but teaching them to think like an artist. Using imagination and innovation to problem solve is imperative to breaking cycles of poverty.” – Mary-Mitchell Campbell, Founder and Executive Director
A unique aspect of the programming at ASTEP is that it is heavily research-based. From improving reading comprehension and advancing creative thinking, to fostering collaboration and teaching problem solving, research shows that access to the arts can bring about significant improvements in children’s educational and social development.
ASTEP employs nationally accredited standards to train artists and create arts curricula, and closely monitors and evaluates the impacts of each program on the children they serve. They collaborate with schools and partner organizations to meet the specific needs of communities, while tailoring each program to address the specific risks youth face in their communities, such as substance abuse, gender inequality, HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, gang violence, and teen pregnancy.
The quality of ASTEP's artists uniquely positions them among arts organizations. Their volunteers are highly successful Broadway or professional artists and students or faculty from schools such as Juilliard. They become transformative role models in the lives of the youth they serve, delivering arts programming through a variety of artistic mediums, including drama, dance, visual art, music, and creative writing.