ASTEP Receives Grant From Seller-Lehrer Family Foundation

ARTISTS STRIVING TO END POVERTY (ASTEP) announced today that it has received a $50,000 commitment from the Seller-Lehrer Family Foundation (SLFF) towards their arts programming in partnership with the International Rescue Committee's Refugee Youth Summer Academy (RYSA). ASTEP is a non-profit organization founded by Broadway musical director Mary-Mitchell Campbell and students at Juilliard who sought to transform the lives of youth using the most powerful tool they had - their art. Today, ASTEP connects performing and visual artists with youth from underserved communities in the U.S. and around the world to awaken their imaginations, foster critical thinking, and help them break the cycle of intergenerational poverty.

The IRC's Refugee Youth Summer Academy supports the personal growth, cultural adjustment, and education of children who have recently arrived in New York City as refugees, asylees, and unaccompanied minors. Through this program, ASTEP uses the arts to help students successfully transition into the U.S. school system and create a new life in their new home. ASTEP's art classes at RYSA give students the opportunity to embrace their dual identities as proud representatives of their home countries while entering their new communities as proud New Yorkers and Americans. The SLFF grant supports ASTEP's efforts in providing six weeks of arts programming to over 110 students from over 20 countries and speaking more than 25 languages.

The Seller-Lehrer Family Foundation, Inc. (SLFF) was founded by Broadway Producer, Jeffrey Seller and his partner, Josh Lehrer, a prominent photographer and documentarist. The SLFF mission is to support dynamic educational, cultural, and environmental initiatives.

"This vital grant is a chance for ASTEP to build on over 10 years of experience leading the arts component of the Refugee Youth Summer Academy" said Mary-Mitchell Campbell "The adjustment period after a refugee child's arrival is critical to their successful transition to school and their new home. By learning, playing and exploring social emotional skills through the arts, they can find ways to cope, drawing strength from their families and communities. With this grant, we are able to strengthen the recruitment and training of our Volunteer Teaching Artists in order to better meet the needs of this diverse student population and utilize quality materials and supplies."

"I have known Mary-Mitchell for years and I have long admired her talent and energy, both with performers and with students in the most difficult of circumstances" said Jeffrey Seller, the producer of Tony Award-winning musicals Hamilton, Rent, Avenue Q, In the Heights, and this season's The Cher Show. "I am proud to deepen their impact with the students at the Refugee Youth Summer Academy," added Seller.

ASTEP was conceived by Broadway musical director Mary-Mitchell Campbell and Juilliard students to transform the lives of youth using the most powerful tool they had - their art. With programs as local as New York City and as global as India and South Africa, ASTEP Volunteer Teaching Artists deliver after-school workshops and summer camps in schools and community organizations that serve youth affected by immigration status, homelessness, gun-violence, incarceration, the justice system, HIV/AIDS, systemic poverty, and the caste system. ASTEP uses the arts as a vehicle to teach youth the social emotional skills they need to be the best versions of themselves, celebrating their strengths and building up their unique areas for growth. For more information about ASTEP contact Katherine Nolan Brown, Director of Development, 212-921-1227 or katherine@asteponline.org.



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