CitiWide Vocational Center is a non-profit (501-C3) organization that provides educational opportunities for underserved populations in Washington D.C. Part of CitiWide’s mission is to provide an after-school program for students between the ages of 5 and 13 that’s focus is on academic enrichment. Our afterschool program runs every day between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. and is currently funded by the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation (CYITC), which allows the program to be free for our students. Students are guided through their homework assignments and provided educational enrichment activities to help them strengthen their skills in reading, writing and math. The students in our program are bright and curious, and over the course of the year, we introduced them to different art enrichment activities including painting with tempera and water colors, drawing with pastels, colored pencils and crayons, and creating sculptures out of clay. Unfortunately these supplies are limited, and it has been difficult for us to provide these enrichment activities for our students on a regular basis.
Currently, we are looking to expand our program and the services we provide by dedicating a day a week to introducing our students to the many different art forms that could be available to them. We plan on doing this by facilitating creative workshops taught by our staff, volunteers and guest artists. We also plan on continuing to incorporate art into our everyday activities. In order to do so, we are hoping to acquire enough supplies to provide the resources necessary to do so. We want to develop this part of our program because we believe that by introducing our students to art at an early age, it will allow them to develop their imagination and refine their cognitive and creative skills. We also believe that it is a wonderful way to enhance the academic enrichment activities we provide for them because it motivates and engages them in learning, helps to stimulate their memory and understanding and enhances their ability to communicate and develop healthy relationships.
Many of our students are just beginning to develop a command on the English language and being able to draw or paint what they are thinking and feeling is very beneficial to them because it teaches them how to explain things both artistically and verbally. Most of our students come from low-income, non-English speaking families and lack the resources and support they need to excel in school and in society. Our after-school program is dedicated to providing the support our students need to be high-achieving, well-rounded individuals, and we believe that providing art education will help us and them reach this goal.