Linkages To Learning

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Linkages To Learning: After-School Dance Club

Gaithersburg, United States
Year Founded:
2002
Organization type: 
government
Project Stage:
Established
Budget: 
$1,000 - $10,000
Scaling strategies launched within the past 6 months:
Not Applicable
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The Summit Hall After-School Dance Club is an program for children who lacks access to extracurricular activities that contribute to their social, emotional and physical development. Dancing have components that contribute to the children self-confidence, positive outlook, fitness, and well being.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if through dancing we can help improve thelives of many children who live the day to day stresses of living in poverty?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

80% of the students at Summit Hall Elm. are enrolled in the Free and Reduced Meal Program which is an indicator of the poverty level of the families. Having limited financial resources, the families can not afford to enroll the children in extra-curricular activities that contribute to their healthy development and their emotional and physical well being.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The after school dance program have served many purposes to enhance the children's social, emotional and physical well being. The program started with 15 children in 2003 and in 2016 it enrolled 138 children. Participation in the program, free of charge, gives the children the opportunity to develop a new social network through relationships with dance partners and dance instructors. Emotionally, the program helps the students feel a sense of joy and pride for their hard work , increasing their self-esteem and self-confidence. It also offers the benefits of exercise, improved health and a way to release stress. In addition learning dances from different parts of the world increases the children cultural sensitivity.

Awards

None
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

One of the highlights of the program is the collaborative partnership among the school, parents, non profit and government agencies such as Linkages To Learning. Examples of it are: LTL staff oversees the program, recruits dance instructors, coordinates use of space and snacks and organize the logistics of a big dance recital , usually attended for hundreds of people, where the children showcase the product of their hard work. Parents and people from the community are involved as volunteer dance instructors. The Montgomery County Public Schools provide the snacks and the use of the auditorim for free for the Dance Recital. Some private agencies help collecting dance items required for the performances such as ballet and tap shoes, or etc.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The program is very cost effective because through 13 years more than a 1.000 children have benefited from it due to the collaborative approach of all individuals and agencies involved in offering the program. The following case illustrates the impact of the program; An 8 year old child was referred to the program by her therapist. Parents were reporting child crying every night and morning because she was unhappy about not having friends and being "rejected" by other students. Upon participation in the program, the parents and the teacher noticed a marked improvement in the child's disposition. She was not longer crying about going to school. She was spending time at lunch and recess with her dance peers, rather than eating and playing alone. The child was enthusiastic about her participation in the dance program and she was looking forward her big performance on recital day.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

We plan to continue offering the program in the school. The program has become very popular among parents and students and enrollment has become very competitive. Usually the program fills in the following morning of opening registration. We would like to have more space and funding to serve every child interested in attending the program. We have been very successful in recruiting volunteer instructors and we would like to offer them incentives to continue their involvement in the program. Involving a private sector is an strategy to increase the impact.
Sustainability
Funding: How is your project financially supported?: 
individual donations or gifts - 10%
grants or contracts - 70%
earned income (product or services sales, licensing, franchising, consulting, financing, etc.) - 20%

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The program has sustained during 13 years due to the collaborative partnership of public and private agencies involved in it and we strive to involve more partners . The only aspect that requires funding every year is the purchase of the dance outfits for each child to "shine" on the stage. Low income families can not afford to buy them. The expense for the dance items is about $10/per child

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

We are not aware of a organization doing a similar program in the area, or at the scale that we have been doing it for many years.
Team

Founding Story

The program started as a suggestion of a group of Hispanic mothers who wanted to teach their Latin folklore to their children. Two of them were the initial dance instructors. The following years more parents and school teachers were volunteering and the program kept growing. The "AHA moment" came when a child being treated in therapy for depression, and who felt worthless, gained popularity in the school as a salsa dancer. Through the program the child was gaining confidence and self-esteem, two factors vital to the treatment of his depression. It showed taht the dance was not only a vehicle to encourage movement and fitness, but also a tool to polish social and emotional skills that the children could use off the dance floor or the stage.

Team

Team is: LTL/Community School Coordinator who oversees the program, secure logistics and funding for it, (has done it for 13 years). This person is also coordinating other community activities in the school and she is hired full time by the Montgomery County Government. 12 Volunteer Dance Instructors (instructing dance once a week for the 15 weeks that the program last every year)