Mrs. Laura Best to Honor Arts and Education Programs for Underserved Youth

CONTACT: Chris Beakey/Sarah Hiller/Danielle Williams
January 22, 2007, 2:30 p.m.
202 667 0901

Honorees from 17 communities in the U.S. and Mexico invited to January 22nd Ceremony

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Young people from communities across the U.S. and Mexico who engage in after-school arts and humanities programs that promote educational achievement and productive lives will be honored by Mrs. Laura Bush at a ceremony for the 2006 Coming Up Taller Awards in Washington, D.C. The ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m. in the East Room of the White House on Monday, January 22.

NOTE: Members of the press who do not have a White House press credential must fax his or her name (as it appears on his or her driver's license), Social Security number and date of birth on company letterhead to (202) 456-1523 no later than 6:00 p.m. on Friday, January 19, 2007. Pre-set will be at 9:30 a.m. Final access will be at 10:15 a.m. from the driveway outside the Press Briefing Room. For additional credentialing or logistical questions, please call (202) 456-6313.

From student-produced radio programming in New York, NY, to performing arts steeped in Hispanic culture in Ft. Worth, TX, to an orchestra program that nurtures high academic achievement in Fremont, CA, the honored programs represent a diverse array of experiences that enable young people to nurture their interests under the disciplined and caring tutelage of educators and community leaders. All programs will receive $10,000 in honor of their accomplishments in enriching the lives of young people and their communities.

The honored programs are located in New York, NY, Chicago, IL, Charlotte, NC, Hope, AK, Newark, NJ, New Orleans, LA, Ft. Worth, TX, Lenox, MA, Birmingham, AL, Fremont, CA, Berkeley, CA, Haines, AK, Baltimore, MD, Washington, D.C. and Morelos and Campeche, Mexico.

"Coming Up Taller gives us the chance to celebrate arts programs that are helping boys and girls develop their talents and find their own voices," said Mrs. Bush. "The programs we recognize with the Coming Up Taller awards bring caring adults into the lives of children so that these children can grow up to be successful and healthy adults themselves."

Coming Up Taller is an initiative of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH). The President's Committee partners with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to administer the program, which was founded in 1998.

Coming Up Taller Awards

The Coming Up Taller Awards recognize and support outstanding community arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America's young people, and provide them with new learning opportunities and opportunities to contribute to their communities. The awards also highlight the contributions that historians, scholars, librarians and visual and performing artists make to families and communities by mentoring children. More than 250 nominations were received by the program in 2006.

"The arts and humanities develop bright young people who will lead our nation in the future," said Adair Margo, Chairman, President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. "Coming Up Taller recognizes the best of after-school and summer programs that engage youth in music, theatre, dance, photography, history and all kinds of enriching activities that help them realize their full potential as human beings."

Representatives of each program will be in Washington to accept the awards. The following programs will be honored:

Art at the Heart and Intervention Hope, Hope, AR

Through Art at the Heart and Intervention Hope, at-risk students ages 6-18 have the opportunity to engage in a wide range of artistic pursuits and community activities that provide a sense of place and possibility. In a largely rural area with high rates of poverty, these programs benefit children at risk of underachievement in school.

Studioworks, Communities in Schools of New Jersey, Newark, NJ

Founded in 1999, Studioworks offers training and employment in the visual and performing arts to keep young adults safe, productive and engaged in their community. Studioworks' year-round workshops are taught by seasoned professional artists specializing in a range of disciplines that include photography, mural painting and vocal training. At the conclusion of each session, Studioworks hosts a performance, public exhibition, and a sale of the students' work.

Radio Rookies, WNYC Radio, New York, NY

Started in 1999 by WNYC Radio, Radio Rookies enables young people from some of New York City's most under-resourced neighborhoods to produce compelling radio stories heard by 1.1 million listeners in the New York area and many more through the national and international radio networks that also feature the Rookies' broadcasts.

Double Discovery Center at Columbia University, New York, NY

The Double Discovery Center at Columbia University is home to two programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education: Upward Bound and Talent Search. Upward Bound is a year-round college preparatory program that strengthens the academic and life skills of more than 165 high school students every year. Through Talent Search, more than 800 middle and high school students receive academic, college and career counseling every year.

Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra, New Orleans, LA

Founded in 1994 by local professional musicians, area teachers, and parents, the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra offers opportunities for young musicians to perform in one of the orchestra's many ensembles and subsidizes lessons, instruments and tuition to students in need of financial assistance. As a testament to the program's influence, 90 percent of the students progress to full participation in the orchestra and 90 percent pursue a college education.

Teatro de la Rosa Youth Program, Ft. Worth, TX

Created through a partnership between the Latin Arts Association and local community organizations, Teatro de la Rosa enables young people aged eight-to-18 from Fort Worth, Texas to learn all aspects of theater operations, from playwriting to production to performance. Students receive free, on-site classes at the Rose Marine Theater three days a week for 12 weeks in both the fall and spring sessions, and four weeks of instruction during the summer.

Shakespeare in the Courts, Lenox, MA

Shakespeare in the Courts is a collaboration between Shakespeare & Company and the Berkshire Juvenile Court in Pittsfield, MA. Over 100 juveniles, who participate in the performance program as part of their community service, have successfully completed the Project since its inception. The participants rehearse three times a week and perform one of Shakespeare's plays, which is presented at the end of the project to families, friends and the media.

Birmingham Cultural Alliance Partnership (B-CAP), Birmingham, AL

Led by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, B-CAP annually connects 200 inner-city youth and their families with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute's community partners in a program that uses the arts and humanities to reinforce classroom learning, promote student achievement, nurture personal development and increase parental involvement in education.

Write to Read-Youth Literacy at Juvenile Hall, Fremont, CA

A partnership between the Alameda County Library, the Department of Probation and the Alameda County Office of Education, the Right to Read: Youth Literacy at Juvenile Hall program has introduced the joy of reading to more than 4,000 incarcerated youth. Founded in 1999, Write to Read motivates young people housed in the Alameda County Juvenile Hall to strengthen their reading skills and make meaningful connections to authors and books that can positively influence the choices they make in their own lives.

Young Musicians Program, Berkeley, CA

The University of California, Berkeley's Young Musicians Program (YMP) enables as many as 90 young people each year to receive intensive personal musical training as a means for influencing academic achievement and personal growth. While the majority of the students are from low-income communities and the program is undeniably rigorous, YMP has a zero dropout rate, and 100 percent of its graduates enter college.

Baltimore Urban Debate League, Baltimore MD

The Baltimore Urban Debate League (BUDL) enables young people to engage in public policy debate as a venue for developing skills in communication and critical thinking. Beginning in 1999 with 90 students from eight schools, the League has evolved into a nationally recognized program that transforms the lives of over 1000 students from more than 60 middle and high schools throughout the city each year.

ShakesPEERS, Washington, D.C.

Based in Southeast D.C., ShakesPEERS enables 250 students in grades four through 12 to rehearse and perform the classic texts of William Shakespeare as a venue for creativity, critical thinking and forging connections to their community. The program is offered by the Shakespeare Theatre Company, which was founded in 1985 to present classical theatre in an accessible, skillful, imaginative and American style.

Snow City Arts Foundation, Chicago, IL

Snow City Arts Foundation was founded in 1998 to provide arts education and foster cultural enrichment for the benefit of hospitalized children in Chicago. The program has served more than 7,500 children who would otherwise experience a serious gap in educational access due to illness. Past projects of Snow City Arts include published anthologies of children's poetry, films created for local and international film festivals, compilations of original music and numerous art exhibits. This year, Snow City Arts will bring educational programs to thousands of hospitalized children at Children's Memorial Hospital, Rush University Children's Hospital and John H. Stroger Hospital of Cook County.

Starfish Academy, YMCA of Greater Charlotte, Charlotte, NC

Developed by the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, Starfish Academy is a literacy program that builds important reading and writing skills among children who are at-risk of academic underachievement. Founded in 1999 through a strong, strategic partnership with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools as a summer literacy camp, it expanded in 2004 to include an after school component and now serves nearly 300 children at nine sites throughout the community.

Tlingit Language & Culture Program, Haines, AK

Now in its 17th year, the Sheldon Museum's Tlingit Program offers students of Haines, Alaska the opportunity to explore the language, culture, art and history of the native people of the Chilkat Valley, an effort that strengthens bonds with their heritage while teaching important life lessons. The Tlingit Program includes activities and classes at the Museum, as well as in local Indian schools. Language classes, guest speakers and a wide variety of hands-on experiences engage children and teenagers while connecting them with community elders who serve as role models.

Children's Cultural Center La Vecindad, Morelos, Mexico

Serving 55,000 children and 9,000 adults throughout 22 municipalities in the state of Morelos, Mexico, Children's Cultural Center La Vecindad offers opportunities to participate in numerous art activities. From performing arts, to drawing, to sculpture, photography, radio broadcasting and more, the wide array of offerings creates fertile ground for nurturing creativity and growth. The Center also provides great benefits to the larger community through annual exhibitions, performances, fairs and festivals and radio programs.

La Chacara Children's Cultural Center, Campeche, Mexico

Created in 1998, La Chacara Children's Cultural Center strengthens communities and neighborhoods throughout Campeche, Mexico by engaging young people with diverse cultural activities. Its offerings span several disciplines of art, including oil painting and craft-making, regional dance and music instruction.

"Through the Coming Up Taller program, the President's Committee focuses national attention on exemplary programs that enhance the lives and learning of young people who are most at risk," said Henry Moran, Executive Director, President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. "We believe our nation's future - our leaders, artists, writers, musicians, educators and entrepreneurs - depends on the investment these excellent programs make in the lives and talents of our youth."

The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) bridges the interests of federal agencies and the private sector, supports special projects that increase participation, and helps incorporate the humanities and the arts into White House objectives. Mrs. Laura Bush is the Honorary Chair of the PCAH.

The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education.

Because democracy demands wisdom, the National Endowment for the Humanities serves and strengthens our Republic by promoting excellence in the humanities and conveying the lessons of history to all Americans.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is an independent federal grant making agency dedicated to creating and sustaining a nation of learners.