Center for Creative Education
"We give our kids a safe space where they can find their voice and a way to express it. They get a lot of leeway in developing their subject matter and they choose the art form to express it. We help guide that." — Meridith Robb, Deputy Director, The Center for Creative Education
The Center for Creative Education (CCE) offers arts education programs in four areas – music, dance, fitness, and performance-focused ensembles. While their programming is available to all, from children to adults, they have a special focus on low-income and underserved youth and children.
The Dyson Foundation supports programs that enhance education for underserved Mid-Hudson Valley youth and values a focus that provides opportunities, a social justice angle, and the development of leadership skills. Grants to CCE fall within the Enhancing Education and Strengthening Nonprofits themes.
“We’ve put on shows that incorporate dance, music, spoken word, and a lot of things that are being brought to us by the kids, whatever they see as a social justice issue,” says Deputy Director Meridith Robb. “They address topics like suicide and depression, racism, and police brutality.”
CCE programs use the arts to teach skills like persistence, teamwork, discipline, focus, and mastery, and 90 percent of youth participants go on to attend college. CCE’s primary activity is after-school programming and they reach over 3,500 children and youth in Dutchess and Ulster counties, also providing valuable safe spaces at their Kingston headquarters and in Beacon. Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Initiative named CCE a model program, and through a partnership with the Ulster County Department of Health, its inter-generational fitness programs have reached over 10,000 residents.
“We operate under a sliding scale fee structure, and the Center has a policy of turning no child away due to an inability to pay. About 82% of our students receive some scholarship assistance,” says Robb.
In addition to open programs, CCE is home to the Energy Dance Company ensemble and to the Percussion Orchestra of Kingston, youth ensembles that require auditions, rehearse several times a week, have academic requirements, and compete and tour internationally with considerable success.
“They’ve been to the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic in Ohio, New Jersey, and Long Island, we just got back from California, they’ve toured Germany twice, they’ve been on BET twice, been to the Apollo twice, and they brought home awards. They opened for America’s Best Dance Crew in Albany and won first place,” says Robb.
Their DXF fitness program, or Dance Cross Fitness, developed by Executive Director Bryant Andrews, has a national following, with certified instructors nationwide. Some CCE students get certified as instructors, which gives them the opportunity to earn money by teaching at the colleges they attend.