A photo of four women in flowing dresses, performing an elegant dance on a grassy lawn on a sunny day.
Members of Berkshire Pulse, performing in June, 2019, photo courtesy Berkshire Pulse, via Facebook.

Mass Cultural Council Awards more than $1.5M to Programs Serving Massachusetts Youth

Mass Cultural Council’s YouthReach initiative is the longest continually running support program for Creative Youth Development (CYD) work in the United States.

Berkshire Pulse programs promote participation in performing, movement, and creative arts, regardless of ability to pay. Dancers participate in a June, 2019 Berkshire Pulse program; photo courtesy Berkshire Pulse, via Facebook.

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BOSTON – Mass Cultural Council today announces that grants totaling $1,584,000 have been awarded to 72 programs in communities across the Commonwealth that focus on infusing youth development with creative experiences in the arts, humanities, and sciences.

“The importance of Creative Youth Development programming at this time in history cannot be overstated,” said Michael J. Bobbitt, Executive Director, Mass Cultural Council. “These programs not only foster creativity in young people, but they also provide supports – for mental health, promoting racial justice, and food insecurity. As a child, I found solace and comfort in the artswhen stress, struggle, and anger surfaced in my life. I am pleased Mass Cultural Council is able to continue to invest in these important programs at a time when young people need them the most.”

Creative Youth Development programs foster creative expression while supporting core social and emotional skills, engaging young people of all ages as empowered agents in their own lives. As a practice, Creative Youth Development draws from a belief that culture plays a major role in the growth of creative, productive, and independent-minded citizens and thriving communities.

Mass Cultural Council’s YouthReach initiative is the longest continually running support program for Creative Youth Development (CYD) work in the United States. With this latest round of funding, YouthReach has invested more than $15 million into more than 100 Massachusetts organizations in its 27-year history.

Each of the 72 grantees will receive $22,000 in this round to support their work, including:

  • Berkshire Pulse, Great Barrington – to provide dance, world music and performing arts instruction after school and during summer breaks for at-risk youth in Southern Berkshire County.
  • Elevated Thought Foundation, Lawrence – for youth to examine societal issues and explore new ideas through discussion and debate, poetry, organizing, and the use of various visual art mediums.
  • New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford – to provide 18 low-income, academically motivated high school students with resources and experiences to deepen community engagement, promote personal and professional development, and cultivate college and career readiness.

A complete funding list and project descriptions for the FY22 YouthReach grantees is available online.                      

A key pillar of the Agency’s Strategic Plan is Empowering a Creative Generation. YouthReach accomplishes this goal by providing targeted resources and training to increase the depth and quality of creative learning for young people and advancing the Agency’s national leadership role in Creative Youth Development through advocacy, field building, and partnerships.                 

Mass Cultural Council will hold its next Creative Youth Development Community Meeting on January 27 at 3:30pm. This virtual open meeting offers a space for those working in the field of Creative Youth Development to connect, problem-solve, and spotlight best practices in a rapidly changing environment.

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