Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley have a world-wide reputation as a premier vacation and retirement destination. What is less known is that the Coachella Valley has a high rate of poverty which especially impacts our BIPOC communities and youth. Within the Palm Springs School District, for instance, nearly 85% of our students come from disadvantaged homes. Segments of our community have more than twice the state’s average of residents with income below the poverty level.
Interesting to know is that the Palm Springs community has a number of long-standing, independently owned, amazing dance schools who have made significant contributions to the development of youth enrolled in their schools. Educating, training, mentoring, and developing skills and discipline have taken students into college university programs, dance on Broadway, in television, and dancing with companies such as Alvin Ailey Dance and Boston Ballet. Still, others have gone on to make dance education their career, opening their own dance schools, and into careers unrelated to dance that require acquired skills such as those learned in dance, to be successful. Studies show a student’s academic attainments are improved through dance. Despite these great achievements historically these local studios have operated as silos, and opportunities for the underserved in the community have been disproportionate.
Our dance scholarship program is a working alliance with the established dance schools in Palm Springs, and our network of collaborating schools and organizations is growing. The program encourages qualifying youth (aged 10-18) with dance experience to apply for a scholarship covering 100% of their chosen dance class. Selections are based on need and merit.
Our educational programs also reach into the public school system, to enrich arts programming and ensure access to dance is accessible to underserved kids who have the inability to attend studio classes. Besides involving students in special projects, our "Teach the Teacher" program supports the ongoing growth of public-school dance teachers and fortifies the public-school learning experience for students.
IT IS AN HONOR TO WORK IN CONJUNCTION WITH OUR LEGACY STUDIOS
We are most grateful to the Western Wind Foundation, our principal scholarship funding partner. Additionally, we receive scholarship sponsorship support from numerous community stakeholders, individual donors, and foundations. Our on-going collaboration includes our work with the Palm Springs Unified School District, The Find Food Bank, the Palm Springs Cultural Center, The City of Palm Springs, and community volunteers. We are so grateful for their commitment and generosity.