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Celebrating its 20th year, National Dance Institute of New Mexico — a statewide nonprofit organization has been featured by the Wallace Foundation in an exclusive list of eight “exemplary” and “highly effective” arts organizations in the United States.
Based in New York, the Wallace Foundation is an independent, national foundation dedicated to supporting and sharing effective ideas and practices that expand learning and enrichment opportunities for children.
“It’s great to know that our programs have not only made a measurable difference in the lives of children, but are now recognized and validated by the Wallace Foundation as well,” said Russell Baker, NDI New Mexico executive director. “Factors such as high poverty, childhood obesity, academic gaps and limited access to arts education in New Mexico limit children’s opportunities to develop into successful students. But through our programs, students learn the skills necessary to overcome obstacles and gain the confidence, tenacity and work ethic necessary to succeed.”
The Wallace Foundation’s report, “Something to Say: Success Principles for Afterschool Arts Programs from Urban Youth and Other Experts,” examined both the supply and demand for afterschool arts programs. The report offers insights directly from middle and high school students and their families as well as teachers and leaders in the arts and youth development.
The report found that both experts and tweens (between ages 10 and 13) and teens from low-income families agreed on what constitutes a great arts program. Based on the report’s findings, there are 10 principles for an effective, high quality arts program:
• Instructors are professional, practicing artists, and are valued with compensation for their expertise and investment in their professional development
• Executive directors have a public commitment to high-quality arts programs
• Arts programs take place in dedicated, welcoming spaces and affirm the value of art
There is a culture of high expectations, respect for creative expression and an affirmation of youth participants as artists:
• Programs culminate in high-quality public events with real audiences
• Positive relationships with adult mentors and peers foster belonging and acceptance
• Youth participants actively shape programs and assume meaningful leadership roles
• Programs focus on hands-on skill building using current equipment and technology
• Programs strategically engage key stakeholders to create a network of support for both youth participants and the programs
• Programs provide a physically and emotionally safe place for youth
NDI New Mexico’s programs are designed to boost self-confidence, improve grades, promote good health, foster better relationships, and make going to school a productive and fun experience. Through NDI New Mexico’s programs, children learn the “core four” — work hard, do your best, never give up, and be healthy.