Mission: Groove With Me, Inc. is a youth development organization using free dance classes and performance opportunities as a tool to instill in the young women of East Harlem the leadership, pride, spirit of cooperation, creativity, joy and discipline needed to confront the adversity in their daily lives and throughout their future development. The program seeks to decrease teen pregnancy, truancy, crime, violence, prostitution, substance abuse and gang related activity by nurturing youth, building self-confidence, offering positive choices, and providing a safe place to go. Groove With Me, Inc. is a community based organization that provides girls with access to girls-only after-school and summer programming. As a youth development program Groove With Me seeks to meet the developmental needs of our youth while building up their competencies. Our dance program is guided by the recognition that all youth need safety and structure, a sense of belonging, opportunities for contribution and leadership, and ways to develop positive character. At Groove With Me, girls develop positive peer relationships, participate in creative activities, feel a sense of purpose and personal power, and meet their own high expectations. Only one quarter of youth programming in New York City is targeted at girls. While programming for boys and men exceeds that for girls and women in NYC, the increased risk for girls continues. A study by the New York Women's Foundation states that youth who are best able to negotiate the trials of growing up even in the harshest of circumstances often have an adult in their lives who provides sustained support, caring, and guidance. It is not poverty, as many believe, that is the greatest cause of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and violence in women. It is lack of validation and knowledge of options. At Groove With Me girls find the support they need from adults who are role models and mentors. Girls' access to after school activities is impeded by safety, household responsibilities, lack of programming targeting girls, lack of outreach by women role models, and peer pressure. Groove With Me addresses these obstacles by offering a large selection of class times and styles of dance that are separated into various age groups. Groove With Me, Inc. offers more than 35 dance classes for girls aged 4-18, six days a week, given by 40 volunteer dance instructors.
Results: 100% of seniors graduate from high school versus 60% in East Harlem.
Target demographics: Girls and young women ages 4-18 years-old who reside in East Harlem and the South Bronx
Direct beneficiaries per year: We enrolled 388 over the course of the year
Geographic areas served: East Harlem, NY
Programs: There are 35+ free weekly classes in hip hop, jazz, tap, ballet, theater jazz, Indian Dance, Latin Caribbean, creative movement, and modern. In addition to our dance programs, Groove With Me offers a Teen Leadership Program to our high school girls. Through weekly meetings, writing assignments, and group activities participants learn what leadership means. They then put that knowledge into action as they are given the opportunity to volunteer as teen teaching assistants for some of the younger classes at Groove With Me. The young women of TLC become role models to our younger girls and are empowered to make a difference in the lives of others and in their community.