NDI New Mexico Named One of Top Arts Education Programs in U.S.

Celebrating its 20th year, National Dance Institute of New Mexico (NDI New Mexico) - a statewide non-profit organization which has instilled positive change in over 70,000 of New Mexico's underserved children since 1994 - has been featured by the Wallace Foundation in an exclusive list of eight "exemplary" and "highly effective" arts organizations in the United States.

Based in New York, the Wallace Foundation is an independent, national foundation dedicated to supporting and sharing effective ideas and practices that expand learning and enrichment opportunities for children.

"It's great to know that our programs have not only made a measurable difference in the lives of children but are now recognized and validated by the Wallace Foundation as well," said Russell Baker, NDI New Mexico executive director. "Factors such as high poverty, childhood obesity, academic gaps and limited access to arts education in New Mexico limit children's opportunities to develop into successful students. But through our programs, students learn the skills necessary to overcome obstacles and gain the confidence, tenacity and work ethic necessary to succeed."

The Wallace Foundation's report, "Something to Say: Success Principles for Afterschool Arts Programs from Urban Youth and Other Experts," examined both the supply and demand for afterschool arts programs. The report offers insights directly from middle and high school students and their families as well as teachers and leaders in the arts and youth development.

The report found that both experts and tweens (between ages 10 and 13) and teens from low income families agreed on what constitutes a great arts program. Based on the report's findings, there are 10 principles for an effective, high quality arts program:

  • Instructors are professional, practicing artists, and are valued with compensation for their expertise and investment in their professional development;
  • Executive directors have a public commitment to high-quality arts programs;
  • Arts programs take place in dedicated, welcoming spaces and affirm the value of art;
  • There is a culture of high expectations, respect for creative expression and an affirmation of youth participants as artists;
  • Programs culminate in high-quality public events with real audiences;
  • Positive relationships with adult mentors and peers foster belonging and acceptance;
  • Youth participants actively shape programs and assume meaningful leadership roles;
  • Programs focus on hands-on skill building using current equipment and technology;
  • Programs strategically engage key stakeholders to create a network of support for both youth participants and the programs; and
  • Programs provide a physically and emotionally safe place for youth.

NDI New Mexico embodies the 10 principles and employs 61 instructors and musicians, all with professional backgrounds in dance and the arts. The full report, published in November 2013, is available at wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-center/arts-education/Pages/default.aspx.

Co-founded in Santa Fe, NM by Catherine Oppenheimer and Jacques d'Amboise, NDI New Mexico has grown from serving 100 children in 1994 to 7,500 children annually through in-school, after-school, summer and advanced training classes in 34 New Mexico communities. NDI New Mexico's award winning arts and physical fitness programs serve children in urban, rural and Native American communities. Nearly 78 percent of NDI New Mexico's students are from minority ethnic groups, and 73 percent qualify for free or reduced cost lunches at school.

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