Since 1994 Mill Street Loft has developed four Outreach Programs for youth in the cities of Poughkeepsie and Beacon NY. These empowerment programs were created to meet the critical needs of teens facing multiple barriers to employment as well as to address the increase in crime, gangs, substance abuse and teen pregnancy. These programs are 100% dependent upon grants, contributions & fundraising and are always challenging to sustain.
Under the guidance of dedicated professional artist-educators from a broad range of disciplines, the visual, media and performing arts have been the motivating factors to empower youth. These programs link career awareness with educational needs and provide community service opportunities as youth develop pride in themselves & their communities, improve social skills, increase self-expression, and develop cultural sensitivity. Mentoring and life skills are integral components with alumni active as role-models, peer mentors and program advisors. A major goal has been to engage area youth, alumni and their families in these diverse programs as we continue to build our multi-cultural community.
Project ABLE (Arts, Basic Education, Life Skills, Entrepreneurship) began in 1994. It is an arts-based full-time summer job skills training and prevention program for at risk teens ages 14-18. Youth are paid a minimum wage to “earn while they learn.”
Habilidad (“abilities”) started in 2004 as an extension of Project ABLE to serve the growing population of Hispanic/Latino youth from Poughkeepsie Middle and High schools. Bi-lingual artist-educators work with youth on job training and life skills activities everyday after school.
PASWORD (Program for Adolescent Student Women Of Real Direction) created in collaboration with Poughkeepsie Middle School in 1999 & its sister program
Project AWARE (Adolescent Women Are Realizing Empowerment), born in Beacon in 2002 address gender-specific issues for at-risk girls ages 11-15, using the arts to foster self-esteem and personal empowerment. With more than 300 graduates and an active Alumnae Council, every session culminates with a “Rites of Passage” ceremony witnessed by family, friends & community.