Crispus Attucks Cultural Center is recognized for positive youth outcomes

norfolk, va – November 19, 2012 – Tiffani Prigrom, 14, of Norfolk was at the White House today to receive an award from First Lady Michelle Obama on behalf of the Crispus Attucks Cultural Center, which was recognized for its effectiveness in developing learning and life skills in young people by engaging them in the RISE! (Rhythm in Setting Expectations) program.

Tiffani is a 3rd year RISE! dance student attending Lake Taylor Middle School. According to Tiffani, the RISE! program has inspired her to be more focused in her studies, improved her confidence and communication skills, and is looking forward to attending college. And today, Prigrom stood in the East Room of the White House to accept the 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from Mrs. Obama.

Chosen from a pool of more than 350 nominations and 50 finalists, RISE! was one of 12 after-school and out-of-school programs across the country to receive the award, which is the highest honor such programs can receive in the United States. The awards are administered by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The award honors community-based arts and humanities programs that make a marked difference in the lives of their participants by improving academic scores and graduation rates, enhancing life skills, developing positive relationships with peers and adults, and expressing themselves creatively.

“Having the chance to represent Norfolk in accepting this award from the First Lady of the United States in the White House was an experience that I’ll never forget,” said Tiffani.

The RISE! program was created to engage young people in significant exposure in the arts as a way to develop skills they need to be effective in work, at home, and in school. Since its founding in 2005, the program has engaged more than 2,200 young people in live performances, exhibitions and year round workshops in dance, music, creative writing, media and visual arts, theatre and technology at the Attucks Theatre. The program effectively engages students at all levels towards achievement, higher education and meaningful career paths through the arts. The powerful impact of the program is illustrated by the fact that ninety percent of its participants graduate from high school, compared to seventy-six percent of their peers.

The award will be celebrated at the Attucks Nutcracker performances on Friday and Saturday, December 7 and 8, by a number of its long-time partners and supporters, including U.S. Senator Mark Warner, U.S. Congressman Bobby C. Scott, Virginia Senator Kenny Alexander and City of Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim.

“By engaging and inspiring young people, Crispus Attucks Cultural Center is giving them not just the vision but the skills to build a new and better life for themselves and their families, and for our community,” said Bobby C. Scott, U.S. Congressman. “These young people are learning how to use creative thinking to work as a team, to solve problems and to express themselves constructively. These are exactly the kinds of skills we want them to have to be able to succeed in school, in work and in life.”

In addition to the national recognition bestowed by receipt of the prestigious award, Crispus Attucks Cultural Center will also receive $10,000 to support its programming and engage more young people from the community.

“We hope this award will draw attention to the documented fact that programs like ours are essential investments not just in the lives of our young people, but in our community, as well,” said Gail Easley, executive director for Crispus Attucks Cultural Center. “We’re incredibly proud of this achievement and of the young people, volunteers, supporters, board and staff who made it possible.”

The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award is the nation’s highest honor for after-school arts and humanities programs. The awards recognize and support outstanding programs that lay new pathways to creativity, expression, and achievement outside of the regular school day. These programs excite and engage a range of students, cultivating imagination, collaboration, discipline and academic success, with demonstrable results. They also provide safe harbors after school, on weekends and evenings for children and youth in some of our country’s most at-risk urban and rural settings.