ASTEP has changed my life as much as it has changed the lives of the children we serve. As a an artist and a teaching artist it often feels as though our lives are a series of the highest peaks and the lowest valleys. I can think of no better way to begin the climb "out of the valley" than using my art to meet the needs of the underserved. ASTEP gives that opportunity. It is an organization that allows its volunteers and its support staff to gain as mush as they give.
Review from Guidestar
ASTEP gave me a direction to move towards. Because I have done this program, I now know what kind of career path to move towards and why art was so inspiring to me all those years ago. The program is so well coordinated and pushes you enough that you are forced to learn a new set of skills or flex old ones. I felt safe, cared for, and appreciated. It was a great environment to fly in.
Review from Guidestar
ASTEP doesn't just put artists in a classroom, they dive deep in their volunteer training and focus on effective teaching methodologies as well as how to be a role model to the kids they work with. ASTEP makes magic! And with a small staff, they have an actual impact on the lives of the children they serve.
Review from Guidestar
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 first heard about AStep after agreeing to perform in a benefit concert several years ago. After watching the videos about the organization, the people it helped, its generous mission and altruism, I was moved to volunteer my time for it whenever I could. I am amazed at how much the volunteers who travel to India give of themselves to the incredibly neglected children they serve.
I feel very fortunate to be working with this organization. ASTEP continues to contribute the heart and soul of art in regions of the world so starving for empowerment and creative solutions. As a Board Member I observe on a regular basis how wide the metaphoric net is cast for quality educators and artists wanting to contribute to a better world. Each day I leave the ASTEP office I find myself more optimistic and impassioned than I was when I arrived. The administration here does their absolute best to meet the needs of the children we serve as well as those of the volunteer artists we bring on board. I highly recommend anyone looking for an enriching experience to learn more about ASTEP.
I have worked as a volunteer with ASTEP helping to secure volunteers, funding, awareness and programs to help this new organization get established. I've attended benefit concerts and coordinated gift bags for donors plus coordinated materials to be sent to the orphanages and camps where they work. The vision of Mary Mitchell Campbell and her staff is extraordinary and must continue to be nurtured. I would love to see them with a stronger structure of checks and balances so that all efforts are coordinated seamlessly. In particular, I'd love to see them with a Marketing coordinator that will keep the public informed of events and opportunities to serve. They have done a marvelous job of securing volunteers to travel and work with the children, but I'm positive that with a person in place to be more pro-active and detailed in asking for donations, they will thrive and be able to do even more. I'm amazed at what they have accomplished.
ASTEP connected me with opportunities to use my personal skill sets in a way that helps others. I went to them with the talents I have to offer (performing, graphic design/layout,etc.) and they put me to work! They use their resources, both physical and fisical, very well. With a small core group they are always friendly, approachable, and easy to contact. They maintain a large and growing volunteer force and I look forward to seeing ASTEP's continued world wide impact, as well as my personal involvement in their efforts.
This is a truly inspiring group of people to know. It is one thing to have great talent; but, to have that talent and combine it with the passion to share it and nurture it in others is completely different. To use that talent to help other towards the great gift of self expression and improve the human condition is of incalculatable value. I would someday like to find my way to giving in the capacity in which these people do. It again is very inspiring...
ASTEP, Artists Striving to End Poverty, and all of the individuals connected with the organization are some of the most dedicated and selfless people I have ever encountered. My experience as a volunteer for their summer program in Homestead was a pivotal moment in my life. From start to finish, the experience was incredibly positive and fulfilling for both the faculty and the students. ASTEP's contributions to humanity are remarkable, and I feel so blessed to have come in contact with this magnificent group of people.