ASTEP's mission--to empower disenfranchised youth through the arts--is unique and powerful. The organization serves several under-served communities both domestic and abroad. Through my experiences and from what I have heard from those who volunteered in South Africa and India, I believe their domestic programs are much better established and have fewer organizational kinks. ASTEP has incredible potential and it seems that as it is changing leadership, it is improving both in terms of impact and professionalism. I would certainly recommend volunteering one's time in Florida or NYC, but am hesitant to commend their work abroad. As ASTEP starts to recruit more heavily through Idealist.org and other formal sources, they will hopefully establish more professional leadership, preferably from industry professionals with demonstrated international development experience. Currently, ASTEP suffers from the same three drawbacks that seem rampant in any nonprofit: 1) A high degree of nepotism and croneyism, 2) Poor communications, and 3) an absentee founder. But again, like any nonprofit, their work may outweigh the negatives. A friend of mine spent a substantial amount of time volunteering with ASTEP in India and while I would not put up with some of the things she shared with me, she seemed to have an overall positive experience.
I have worked witrh ASTEP on several projects. They are organized, focused and committed to their mission. That they use mostly volunteers to create programs overseas is truly an amazing feat. ASTEP staff are aomng the most professional and energetic srtists I knwo - and they are using their talents to encourage other artists to use their talents to make a difference in the world.
ASTEP is a really wonderful organization and it provides a necessary bridge between arts and activism. I am so impressed with all the people who spend countless hours devoted to this work. It is truly inspiring!
I had the great pleasure of working with Mary-Mitchell Campbell on a benefit for ASTEP this past May. Mary-Mitchell was working at the college where I teach and organized a wonderful benefit/ fund raiser for ASTEP. We did 'Songs for a New World' under her direction and I had the honor of choreographing it. It was through this experience that I became acquainted with this organization. At all times through this process the need and importance of what we were doing was never forgotten. The children we were raising money for were always on my mind at least. What is really rewarding about this particular organization is your artistry is so important to the success and it is an amazing feeling to use your art in away to help people and give a little back. We as artist really don't make much money so we really can't give much in that way, but we can give of our time and what we love the most to help. ASTEP let's you do that and in fact excepts you to use your art to the best of your ability to help. It is a well run organization and every one who I have come in contact with has the passion and determination to continue this wonderful journey as well as making you feel like you are just as important as the big stars that they get to help raise money. I can't say enough about how wonderful these people are and how important and great the organization is for the world. They deserve all the awards and praise that they receive and then some.
I had the incredible fortune to sing at a concert for ASTEP and it changed my life. Mary-Mitchell Campbell, who runs the orginazation, is one of the most caring, selfless, and thoughtful people I have ever met. She devotes all of her time to raising money for and increasing awareness of ASTEP. When she speaks of the children in Africa and how much their lives are enriched by bringing music and art into their lives, she always wells up with joyful tears of pride and gratitude. ASTEP serves as an important ambassador for the US, reaching out to those less fortunate through the universal connection that only music and love can create.
Mary Mitchell Campbell and Michelle Miller worked on a project at Boston College and brought ASTEP to our attention. After knowing about it, the students at Boston College immediately formed a group to create their own student group and expand the work to the Boston area. The ASTEP office has been terrific in providing the information we need to start this chapter and encouraged us wholeheartedly. The students created the official group and are now beginning their outreach to the Boston Community organizations. It is a great program that instills enthusiasm in all who get involved. The organizations who serve the youth are excited that volunteers who are reaching out to them already having a set of skills they find beneficial. Such a program helps both the youth in need and creates an amazing learning opportunity for the students who serve them.
ASTEP is a gem of an organization in a time when it is needed most. There is no greater healing catalyst than art and self expression. ASTEP exposes young people to the brilliance of the arts and uses it to inspire, broaden and strengthen the human spirit.
I was involved in a benefit concert for ASTEP and was exposed to the programs and initiatives they were bringing to various communities. As a member of the Broadway community, I have known many artists who have given their time and talents to broaden the horizons of young people around the world. I was continually impressed by the organization and enthusiasm that ASTEP brought to every project. Their programs are designed to bring immediate impact as well as life-changing experiences. I cannot recommend them more highly.
I have watched ASTEP grow and flourish over the last 5 years. Through ASTEP's affiliation with the Broadway community, provides children all over the world the chance to bring the performing arts into their lives when no one else would enrich them. ASTEP's work with the untouchable children at Shanti Bavin in India is unprecedented. Combining music, theater, therapy, and most importantly, love, they are able to communicate with children so that they may he them to rise above conventions of status, poverty, and social stigma. ASTEP is deserving of any award that it may be seek or honored with.
I've done a lot of work with this non-profit, and it's absolutely fantastic. I worked alongside and with a number of ASTEP volunteers 'on the ground' in India, and have seen the incredible and inspirational effect they have on the young people they work with, and the enormous strength of the volunteers they recruit. The organisation is genuinely life-changing for those who are lucky enough to come into contact with it. Through my work with their volunteers and because of the high opinion I'd formed of the organisation and Mary-Mitchell, I later became more closely involved with their plans for future development of the school in India, and was able to offer my advice and perspective on what I'd seen there. So I've seen what goes on behind the scenes in NY as well, and can honestly say it's extremely well and efficiently run by completely dedicated people. I can't speak highly enough of this non-profit and its people.