Introducing Our New York City Partner LEAP NYC

Many New York City schools are not able to provide rigorous and innovative arts programs due to decades of arts education budget cuts and while people of color make up 68% of the city’s population, they only represent 34% of those in creative occupations. LEAP is taking the initiative to tackle the lack of the promotion of arts in underserved and largely POC communities by providing art residencies and afterschool, offering classes and opportunities in theater, STEAM, public art, and literacy. Their Creative Youth Development Model provides quality instruction in the five core arts disciplines; dance, theater, new media, music, and visual arts with a fundamental focus on literacy. Cityface is a strong proponent of art as we believe that the creativity involved nurtures a transformative and innovative setting for the youth. LEAP provides this alongside a multicultural and social conscious environment which further allows for forward thinking and individual expression. 

LEAP provides a variety of art programs that manifest both inside and outside the classroom. In some of their art-based residencies, they co-teach with classroom teachers and equip them with the knowledge and resources to use art in their everyday academics. This includes the LEAP Literacy Program which uses drama, visual arts, and music to expose kids to a wide genre of literacy. The afterschool space provides similar opportunities in which youth can collaborate on public performances and shows and integrate other academic disciplines into their creative expression. This can be practiced when learning to play a musical instrument, memorizing a script set during a different historical period, or learning math and science through their engaging Tomorrow's Entrepreneurs. One of their signature  social justice themed piece is titled “The Movement,” which is an original a cappella musical performed from the perspective of young people during the civil rights movement of 1963, using compelling narratives, harmonious singing, and rhythmic movement to tell the untold stories of the people who changed the face of history. Annually, pre-Covid, they served approximately 15,000 students across more than 100 schools. As of 2020, they are serving approximately 2,000 elementary and middle school students across 28 schools in New York City. The impact that they have had on the city undoubtedly has a global impact as they are training the young children to become more impactful leaders and contributors in an ever-increasing global society.

LEAP believes arts are not a "nice to have" but rather, "a must have." Thus, even with the major hit of COVID-19, the organization has strived to pursue their goals by adapting to the new environment. In order to continue the promotion of the arts, LEAP took fast action to create the Virtual Art Rooms which uses Google Classroom and full time LEAP art educators to facilitate a learning space in which students are able to continue their engagement with different disciplines including the visual arts, drama, dance, musical theater, music, literacy, mindfulness, and STEAM. In the dance program, children can participate in Poetry in Motion, which combines poetry and dance, or Yoga, where they can learn new positions and terminology. Despite the hardships of the pandemic, LEAP has found ways to adapt to a socially distanced setting, continuing their goal of providing children with the opportunity to explore themselves and the world in a more critical and creative way. 

Cityface encourages our readers to support LEAP's commitment to stand by youth during this difficult time! . On October 28, 2020, LEAP's Young Professionals Board held an event called “Color Me Wine,” a virtual paint and sip event in which one could purchase paintbrushes and other art materials and produce a work of art under the guidance of a LEAP Teaching Artist. All the proceeds raised from this event went straight to the arts programs. The Young Professionals Board consists of 20 young professionals throughout various fields that organize events to raise funds for LEAP and gain experience in the nonprofit sector as the next generation to become future leaders of such organizations. Events are shared with and attended by more than 200 members of the Young Professionals Network throughout the year. Whether it is through donations or collaborative work, there are many opportunities available for one to get involved. You can also visit their website to join their 2020 Year-end campaign. 

Cityface is a brand created by a group of young students who were inspired by the innovative and creative minds of their fellow peers. We wanted to create a space made by Generation Z and one that can continue to foster a visionary atmosphere. Without programs like LEAP using art to transform the city’s youth, our goals for such a bright future would not be possible.