Nov. 17 is a memorable day for youth after school programs, especially the 13 that First Lady Michelle Obama awarded $10,000 to at the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program (NAHYP) Awards.
Of course, it's not just about the money but the recognition that comes along with being acknowledged by the White House as one of the best programs for youth in terms of developing and improving the academic skills using arts and the humanities.
For 2015, the following programs were deemed outstanding: New York's A Commitment to Excellence (ACTE II) and The Center for Urban Pedagogy, Inc., South Dakota's Action Arts and Science Program, California's Art High, Oregon's Caldera, Washington's CityDance DREAM Program, Georgia's Deep Center, Inc., Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, New Orleans' Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Inc., Utah's Spy Hop Productions, Maine's The Telling Room and Indianapolis' VSA Indiana, Inc. Also given the International Spotlight Award is Organization for Youth Empowerment from Honduras.
"Thousands of kids all across America are dreaming just a little bigger and they're reaching a little higher thanks to after-school programs that you all represent," the First Lady spoke to the attendees of the awarding ceremony. "That's why we're going to keep working to promote these programs... I want to thank all the young people here for working so hard and taking your education so seriously... I'm excited to see everything that you'll achieve in the future," she said.
The NAHYP is a combined initiative of the Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services wherein afterschool programs focusing on arts and the humanities for the underserved communities will be evaluated annually and twelve winners will be awarded a cash grant plus capacity building support for an entire year. A special International Spotlight Award is also given to one country which has an excellent youth-oriented cultural program.
The First Lady is a huge supporter of continued education since some of her campaigns include the Reach Higher and Let Girls Learn initiatives which serve to motivate and support the youth both within and outside of the United States to continue their studies.