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2015 Top-Rated Nonprofit

California Dance Institute

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Education, Dance

Mission: The california dance institute is an arts education program that teaches life and learning skills through dance and music. Cdi's mission is to motivate children to develop a personal standard of excellence by instilling confidence, discipline and focus through a joyful, structured dance workout.

Target demographics: teach life and learning skills to at-risk youth in public schools

Direct beneficiaries per year: 1200 chilren in Los Angeles-area public schools

Geographic areas served: Los Angeles County

Programs: CDI's in -school and after-school programs give children a basic understanding of the fundamentals of movement, rhythm and music in structured, energetic dance classes with live musical accompaniment for 20-25 weeks in each school. CDI’s mission is to motivate children to develop a personal standard of excellence by instilling confidence, discipline and focus through the rigor and joy of dance. The schools that CDI serves are in ethnically diverse, low-income neighborhoods where children are at risk.

Community Stories

26 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have worked with many arts providers In the public school system. Many are well intentioned and have excellent staff, but many are either unable to serve a high volume of children or are unable to get the children truly participating on a level that makes funding the programs worthwhile.

CDI is an extraordinary program because it wastes no time getting children fully involved. It serves high volumes of kids and gets them all on their feet and feeling that they have abilities they didn’t know they possessed. Kids develop dance proficiency as well as personal confidence in their bodies and their artistic gifts. The students become excited participants in dance and both boys and girls learn to enthusiastically express themselves and create meaningful dance pieces by using their minds, hearts and bodies.

As a school we continue to support this program year after year because the results are mind-blowing. Kids adore the program and eagerly await dance days. The level of commitment and proficiency they demonstrate when the final pieces are performed is awe inspiring. Furthermore, the program always create pieces with positive and educational messaging so that the kids are realizing dance can be a medium to create not only beautiful pictures but also to express meaning and intention. Pieces, in the past, have explored historical figures, social movements, animal life and science through dance. The staff wisely incorporates a variety of classical, popular, and modern music and accessible choreography to shape pieces that teach and reach every student. It’s a program that lives up to and then always far surpasses its promises and our schools expectations.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a volunteer and parent, I couldn't be happier with CDI's positive impact on my child and her peers. Commitment, discipline, self-esteem are but a few of the benefits that students reap from their participation in CDI. I wish there were more programs like this available to our students.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter was in fourth grade when she was introduced to CDI at Eagle Rock Elementary - and she loved every minute of it! This program gave her confidence and inspired her to keep trying no matter what. The instructors are kind and supportive and they provide a caring environment where the kids can realize that they are able to do it....they can dance and perform and be proud of their own accomplishments. This is an amazing program that I wish every child could have in their lives.

Alexander J V.

Client Served

Rating: 5

CDI has been an awesome activity that my school has been able to participate in. Susan and her team go above and beyond what they need to do to help prepare these students for their final performance. The students by the end of the year enjoy the program and often hope to come back. My students with disabilities have also seen themselves thrive within this program. Many of my students have been able to overcome their anxiety when it comes to performing in front of large crowds. They have even been able to follow multi-step directions. I thoroughly enjoy CDI and hope that other schools can have the same experience that Susan and her team provide.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I love CDI! The team helps my daughter to have self confidence, self control and discipline. Thank you CDI teachers! I wish you all the success in helping more students!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son participated in CDI in his 4th grade class, and thanks to CDI, he has found his love. I don't believe my son would have participated in dance if it wasn't for CDI at his school. Now thanks to this fabulous program, my son has discovered a passion and a strength that he enjoys to this day. He looks forward to every Friday, and practices the routines that he learns almost daily. As a parent, I appreciate the passion and enthusiasm of the CDI teachers, and their genuine care for their students. Thank you CDI! You are the best!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My students wait all week for Thursday’s, when they get to participate in CDI, and for some, SWAT. All the CDI teachers are kind, energetic, and responsive to my huge class’s diverse needs. The kids have so much fun, learn, get good exercise, and discover a passion for dance. During recess, they often rehearse their dances, all of which are tied to social studies. It’s so awesome to see their CDI teachers’ passion transferred to them. If only all schools had CDI!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter has been involved with CDI since she was in the 4th grade. She is a very shy girl but dancing has brought out a confidence in her that she didn't know she had. Now, as a 6th grader, she still loves it! My 3rd grade son is just now being introduced to it and he enjoys it as well!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

What could be more rewarding than bringing joy and exuberance to public school children through the universal language of dance and live music? I get to do this daily. Even on bad days, I am rejuvenated and reinvigorated because I get to see the immediate results of our work at California Dance Institute on the faces of our students.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This program has helped students come out of their shell and strive for excellence! The change we've seen in students is truly night and day.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

CDI (California Dance Institute) is a program for children that provides them with physical fitness and health as well as confidence and pride. The program is well run and it shows that all who are involved from teachers to administrators are very passionate about their mission to bring movement and a thorough dance experience to underserved children. Their culmination show at the end of the year brings tears to your eyes, there is so much joy in the room and the children shine!

Client Served

Rating: 5

The student here at Carson-Gore Academy Love this wonderful program! It helps them build self-esteem, self-awareness, and build more meaningful friendship by working together and practicing to meet one goal. They love it so much that our students recycle and fund raise to raise enough money to pay for this program. Not only do the students participate but they take ownership in bringing and keeping the program going . Ms. Reed, RSP Teacher

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have had the unique experience of working with CDI as an school administrator and, now as a CDI board member. I am so proud to be associated with this outstanding organization. The instructional program develops self-confidence, focus, motivation, and self-discipline to all children. It is incredibly popular with both boys and girl and students of all backgrounds, sizes, shapes and dance ability. Any child can thrive in this program. It develops all the above skills through the medium of dance in a supportive, nurturing yet challenging environment. These skills are all crucial for success academically and in life and what a joy to see them absorbed by the CDI participants in every class and with such joy!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have lost track of the first time I experienced California Dance Institute and I am pretty sure it was near the beginning of its exposure to the Southern California education community. I was blown away and so pleased to see large numbers of elementary age students from different areas of Los Angeles coming together and sharing their excitement and joy of sharing pure movement they learned from the CDI staff. Each year I've experienced this organization at work, it seems all of the players involved.... students, teachers, CDI facilitators, parents,.... become more engaged and fulfilled. Everybody wins. I hope the CDI's participation in the educational dynamic is one of the arts components that will always have a home. It is supportive, necessary and welcomed.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Self-esteem; teamwork; exercise; fun; self-confidence: That's what results when Los Angeles kids participate in the California Dance Institute program at their schools. For the past 7 years I've had the pleasure of supporting the work of the dedicated team of teachers and board members who give from their hearts to support an arts dance experience these children would never have if not for CDI's commitment and passion for dance and it's immeasurable benefit to children. It deserves a place on the list of Great Nonprofits!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Terrific inspiring program that truly benefits kids in so many ways - especially self-esteem - through dance.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have seen the work done with the children for the past 7 years and I am always impressed and delighted by the joy on the faces of the children as they perform. Mind and body are in gear when CDI works with kids and I wish all of the children in LA could have the benefit of these classes. Many people do not realize that kids benefit when they learn kid-friendly dance moves, work in a group, find that they can do something that they never thought they could do, and finally become more confident as a result of the amazing strategies used by the teaching staff. Kudos to CDI!

Client Served

Rating: 5

CDI was a wonderful experience for my children. Not only did they learn how to dance, but also about music and composers from around the world. CDI has given my children self-confidence and the joy of a challenge met. They both enjoyed it immensely!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Both of my sons - two very different personalities - took dance classes with CDI - starting in 4th grade at their school, Eagle Rock Elementary, and continuing with after school instruction with the advanced CEL and SWAT troupes through 5th and 7th grades respectively. As a volunteer chaperone at the culminating public performance at the end of the school year, I saw have a broad range of students delighted in having mastered difficult group dance routines. Students who tended toward the more sedentary academic end of the spectrum (my younger son) or the socially outgoing athletic side (my older son) joined in mastering the discipline required to successfully participate in a professional level dance performance. They reveled in the accomplishment. They revised their personal conception of what they thought they were capable of achieving. And all of this success was not accidental, It was patiently brought about by the high expectations and the consistently high level professional dance instruction of all the CDI staffers - respectful and never condescending.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Dance teachers are awesome and professionals, with class and style. My child enjoyed her years with CDI, gained friends and had fun experiences. Looking forward for my second child to join this year.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I support CDI every year. The organization brings amazing dance opportunities to a diverse population of children throughout the Los Angeles area. CDI teaching emphasizes creative choreography, collaborative movement and a high level of fun.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a student and I was in CDI for 4 years and I loved working with the teachers, who were always very kind and considerate.

Donor

Rating: 5

CDI, propelled by volunteer Board and parents, is doing a fantastic job in the LA area schools. Students are ALL involved - entire classes - and all come to love the movement and discipline involved in cooperation and in the conquering of routines. It promotes self-confidence and levels all kinds of playing - and dancing - fields. Their end of the year performances bring hundreds of children together in a roaring high of personal accomplishment and delight.
Pat Oliansky

Board Member

Rating: 5

California Dance institute (CDI) should be available to ALL kids in elementary schools. Period. The kids learn so much. They learn about exercise and good health. They learn about nutrition. They learn about discipline. And they gain self-esteem. I love to watch the kids dance and perform and to see the joy on their faces. This program has benefits long after the class ends. I have been on the board since 2010. I love being a part of this amazing organization.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am the board president of CDI so you know my experience is going to be positive. I have many, many interactions with CDI but I will only talk about one. At the end of the school year in Monrovia CDI did its end of the year show. The show was outstanding. Take a look at the video clip of the Spanish Dance from that show. It's hard to believe these are primary school students. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yv4mvNvdq64&feature=youtu.be. And while these children are dancing their hearts out science says they are also developing their minds.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a 4th grade teacher at a public school in Northeast Los Angeles. The California Dance Institute has been a key part of our school's arts curriculum for about 15 years. I've had the good fortune to work with CDI directly for the last 6 years.

First and foremost, CDI is an incredible performing arts program! It is also so much more. It builds character and self-esteem, develops creativity and imagination, and gives students exposure to multiple genres of music and dance. It is, also, a weekly, rigorous physical workout.

Throughout the instructional year, culminating in the spring with an immense stage production , all of the students who participate have the experience of putting together a professional quality theatrical production. It is a truly unique program.

Because the entire 4th grade has this experience every year, it has become a tradition that students (and their families) look forward to, and one they will all remember for the rest of their lives.