Two New York City Youth Programs Honored by First Lady Michelle Obama


Student representatives from two New York City youth organizations--the Young People's Chorus of New York City under Artistic Director/Founder Francisco J. Núñez, and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History--will be presented with a 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award by First Lady Michelle Obama at a White House ceremony today. Both organizations are among 12 nationwide selected from more than 470 nominees and 50 finalists for their effectiveness in developing learning and life skills in young people by engaging them in the arts and humanities. The 2:30 p.m. ceremony is available via live streaming video at The ceremony concludes with 12 YPC choristers performing Billy Strayhorn's "Take the A Train."

Accepting the award for the Young People's Chorus of New York City is 16-year-old Stephan Douglas-Allen, who has been a member of YPC since he was eight years old. Now a sophomore at Thurgood Marshall Academy in Harlem, he is a leader in the Young Men's Chorus, one of six YPC choral divisions. He has worked with many of today's top composers and artists and has expanded his worldview by traveling with YPC for performances, competitions, and festivals in North America, Europe, and Asia. On YPC's 2010 tour of Japan he sang the lead in the South African folk song Tshotsholoza- CLICK HERE - winning international praise for himself and the chorus.

"Receiving this award from the First Lady of the United States on behalf of YPC is such an honor." said Stephan Douglas-Allen. "As a member of YPC I have learned that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to, and traveling from Harlem to so many countries has given me a whole new perspective on my place in the global community. I believe my time in YPC is an amazing preparation for facing life and its challenges, especially as I get ready for college."

'We are exceedingly grateful to the First Lady and the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities for the incredible acknowledgment this award gives to the Young People's Chorus of New York City," said Mr. Núñez. "Receiving this prestigious award makes our young people know that they are part of a great program that is benefiting so many other children, and the fact that the First Lady is presenting the awards to the children of these organizations is so telling. At a time of severe cutbacks in arts education, here is the White House saying, 'This is important.'"

About YPC
Founded in 1988 by Francisco J. Núñez, a 2011 MacArthur Fellow, the Young People's Chorus of New York CityTM provides children of all ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds with a unique program of music education and choral performance, while advancing a model of artistic excellence and humanity that enriches the community. YPC has become among today's most celebrated and influential children's choruses and a social model being adopted by other cities and underdeveloped countries. More than 1,200 children from seven to 18 participate annually through YPC's core after-school program, its Satellite program in New York City schools and its national affiliates in Erie, Pennsylvania, and Tenafly, New Jersey. The resident chorus at Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, YPC provides children with the skills to lead fulfilling lives, such as responsibility, teamwork, and discipline, and through its touring programs, the opportunity to gain a world perspective. It is a YPC mandate that all graduating choristers, no matter what their background, go on to higher education with help from the organization's College Bound program. YPC holds almost a dozen gold medals won in international choral competitions and has performed on four continents. Having been nominated as a finalist by the President's Commission on the Arts and Humanities under the Clinton and Bush administrations, YPC is honored to be recognized this year with the top award under President Obama. This past summer they made their South American debut with a tour of Brazil and Argentina, and just last week gave performances and workshops in the Dominican Republic as inspiration for the creation of a national Dominican choir movement. For 2012, YPC has accepted invitations to perform in Stockholm, Sweden; Beijing, China at the World Choral Summit; and at Polyfollia in Normandy, France.

About the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supporting the study and love of American history through a wide range of programs and resources for students, teachers, scholars, and history enthusiasts throughout the nation. Gilder Lehrman creates and works closely with history-focused schools through its Affiliate School Program; organizes teacher seminars and development programs; produces print and digital publications and traveling exhibitions; hosts lectures by eminent historians; administers a History Teacher of the Year Award in every state and US territory; and offers national book prizes. The Gilder Lehrman website,, serves as a gateway to American history online with rich resources for educators designed specifically for K-12 teachers and students.

Eighteen-year-old Robert Sandoval is a senior at All Hallows High School in the South Bronx and has attended GLSA for six semesters. The program helped him achieve outstanding scores on his standardized history tests including the AP World, AP US, Regents Exams and the US History SAT II. In the spring of 2012, he will graduate second in his class.

"Gilder Lehrman Saturday Academies have helped me gain a better understanding and deeper insight on topics in American History and sharpened my understanding of the past and its effects on the present," said Robert Sandoval. "When I grow up I want to be able to look back at the memories and accomplishments in the journey of my educational career and the honor of receiving this award from First Lady Michelle Obama will for sure be a lifelong memory."

"History education is critical not only to academic success but to good citizenship," said James Basker, President, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. "Gilder Lehrman Saturday Academies help develop the minds and realize the potential of today's students and tomorrow's leaders. We are thrilled to receive this prestigious honor."

About The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award
The awards, the highest honor such programs can receive in the United States, are administered by the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The award honors community based arts and humanities programs that make a marked difference in the lives of their participants by improving academic scores and graduation rates, enhancing life skills, developing positive relationships with peers and adults, and expressing themselves creatively.

In addition to the national recognition this award is giving these organizations, both will also receive $10,000 to support their programming and engage more young people from the community. The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award is the nation's highest honor for after-school arts and humanities programs. The awards recognize and support outstanding programs that lay new pathways to creativity, expression, and achievement outside of the regular school day. These programs excite and engage a range of students, cultivating imagination, collaboration, discipline, and academic success, with demonstrable results. They also provide safe harbors after school, on weekends and evenings for children and youth in some of our country's most at-risk urban and rural settings. For more information, visit

2011 NAHYP Awardees:

826 Seattle
Seattle, WA

Art Lab
Denver, CO

Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts
Grand Rapids, MI

Fleisher Youth Art Programs
Fleisher Art Memorial
Philadelphia, PA

East Boston, MA

Humanities Rock
Community Adolescent Resource
And Education Center
Holyoke, MA

Native American Composer Apprentice Project
Grand Canyon Music Festival
Grand Canyon, AZ

Positive Directions Through Dance
The Dance Institute of Washington
Washington, DC

Saturday Academies of American History
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
New York, NY

Sojourn to the Past
San Bruno, CA

Young People's Chorus of New York City
New York, NY

Young Shakespeare Workshop
Seattle, WA

For more information, visit

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