April, 2019
Welcome to Cristina Connections

Honoring our Partners in the Cristina Network
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear. . . each one singing his as it should be, blithe and strong .   Walt Whitman
Many of us have dreams about something we wish for such as singing at the downtown Music Hall, going to college, getting a fabulous job, climbing a mountain. When you were a student were you ever asked about your dreams? Statement Arts was created to inspire young people to learn more about themselves through art and as a result to become more able to empower their dreams. For them Statement Arts levels the playing field. They have a chance to expand their horizons.

Making dreams into reality has not been easy for many young persons. Their lives are complicated for a whole variety of reasons. In their home schools in New York City they feel unable to express themselves and their creativity because these schools have eliminated their art, music, and dance classes. Students who are selected as participants in Statement Arts come from areas of the city where families income is below the poverty line and where the adults have not completed high school. 
So how does Statement Arts work? Children in grades 3-6 and young people in grades 7-11 are introduced to performing arts through a free program called Start Young which is led by teaching artists and volunteers. They develop their own scripts and perform at a culminating performance for the community. High School seniors participate in an expanding horizons free college preparatory program called Start Dreaming that includes a partnership with individual mentors from Morgan Stanley who help each student submit college applications.
A new StArt Access program consists of a growing group of new students and alumni by building a community of cultural, college preparatory and life skills classes. All classes are free to the participants. Statement Arts takes students beyond the under resourced challenges of their lives and the frustration of unfulfilled needs.

How does Statement Arts measure success? They take note of the fact that the students are consistently more confident and assured.
They have learned soft skills necessary to be successful in college. They are proud of being treated as adults and to find that Statement Arts doors are always open to them. They find a sense of community even as alumni. Some continue to participate as paid interns in the programs. Programs are student led and student designed. Statement Arts is home.

One student comments: "This was an amazing experience. It made me gain a lot of motivation in what I want to do with my life. This program made me feel like I always have a shoulder to lean on, so thank you."

Listening to their dreams and proud of their achievements, Statement Arts has given them new directions in their lives.
Shawsheen Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School is located in Billerica, Massachusetts. "Shawsheen Tech", or "Shaw Tech" is a public high school serving 5 towns: Burlington, Wilmington, Bedford, Tewksbury and Billerica making up most of the student body.

As a public vocational high school that serves multiple communities, it provides training in twenty one different shop areas (such as construction, culinary, automotive, and electronics to name a few). After the first year where students participate in exploratory programs, students then select the area of interest that they will focus on for the next three years.

Among the options in the area of electronics is a class whose curriculum focuses on computer repair, security and network administration . Currently, twenty nine students are registered in this program. Fifty percent of this group are students who have some kind of disability. All choose this area for study as it provides them with a more customized learning environment. For these students, enrolling in this program has been very rewarding as the skills they are acquiring are those that enable them upon graduation to get and hold jobs.
All of the computers that are used in this classroom have been contributed through donations. As Robert Galante the instructor points out, “Our program would not be successful without the hardware obtained through this process. We are grateful to the National Cristina Foundation for the link to their nonprofit locator which makes the donations we receive possible. Donors in our community are grateful for a simple process that matches their used equipment to organizations they pick to donate to. Some come from corporations that are linked to Shawsheen Tech through its cooperative education office. Through that connection the school helps companies fill the job openings they have with workers who have been trained with the skills they need in their workplaces.”
So there it is. The cycle of support. A corporation gets a tax deduction for the equipment it no longer needs. The school gets tools for training for students who need to learn real world skills. The corporation gets the skilled workers it needs to fill their job openings. Society benefits as employed people are kept off welfare rolls.

So, who are the winners here?

Spark Joy!
Been a while since you've checked your project profile in the Cristina Network? Log in and update project equipment needs.
Remember - technology donors visiting the Nonprofit Locator are selecting recipients based on equipment needs.
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