The Virginia Avenue Project is a free, after-school program that uses the performing arts in conjunction with one-on-one mentoring to help kids discover their full potential. Through a sequence of writing and performing programs, the kids work in collaboration with adult artists/mentors to develop life skills and give voice to their creativity. The writing and performing programs offer kids a creative environment where they can learn the life skills they often lack: follow-through, collaboration, and self-confidence. In addition to the classes and workshops, the Project presents five shows a year in professional theatres, showcasing the work created by the students and their adult artist/mentor.
Many of the kids lack the opportunities to feel valued and empowered. The Project makes a difference in these children’s lives by giving them an outlet for self-expression, which results in a confidence from attempting and mastering new challenges. Most of the kids enter the program when they’re between eight and ten years old, and because we provide opportunities at subsequent ages and skill levels, the majority of the kids participate until they graduate high school. What sets them apart from other after-school programs is their commitment to long-term involvement, engaging kids though their elementary, middle, and high school years.
In the past 15 years, over 500 students have participated and benefited from the Project’s programs. One hundred percent of the kids graduate from high school. Ninety percent go on to college, and 85% are the first in their families to do so. By using long-term mentorship and exposure to the arts as a motivational tool, students are provided educational, social, and cultural opportunities.