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Our March “First Sunday” collection recipient will be After School Arts Program (ASAP). ASAP is a nonprofit arts educational organization dedicated to providing access to high-quality arts programs for children who may otherwise be marginalized or excluded from such opportunities outside of school. ASAP goes to where kids already are in out-of-school time—their schools, parks and rec programs, libraries, and community centers—and brings the arts to them in the form of multi-week studio classes in all arts disciplines: literary, visual, drama, music, dance, and more. Classes are planned and led by caring, paid professional Teaching Artists for small groups of enrolled students.

The studio class model creates a structured, supportive, and conducive environment for kids’ creative inquiry, empathy, collaboration, personal growth, and fun. ASAP provides—at no cost to students—all supplies and instruction and, when possible, extensions like field trips to enhance students’ appreciation of the cultural resources in their midst. ASAP serves more than 2,500 student enrollments (K–8) annually around the Des Moines metro, and in other parts of the state through virtual programs developed as a pandemic adaptation.

Through its 15-year history, ASAP’s mission has remained unchanged: to affirm young people as persons of value, nurture their skill and talent in the arts, help them realize their artistic gifts, and broaden their awareness of the varieties of artistic expression. ASAP’s work is, at its core, about breaking down barriers to the arts for its highly diverse audience and providing enriching opportunities for self-expression, connection, learning, fulfillment, and validation of young people. ASAP is winner of the Governor’s Arts Award for Impact and Accessibility in the Arts; winner of Bravo Greater Des Moines’ Spotlight Award; and nominee for the Governor’s Arts Awards in Arts Learning. ASAP is one of eleven organizations in the pilot Iowa Culture Leadership Cohort, run by the Department of Cultural Affairs.

For more information go to www.asap-dsm.org.

Checks can be written either to “After School Arts Program” or “DMIEC” with “First Sunday” in the memo line. We would prefer that all checks be mailed to DMIEC. If you mail your check directly to the organization, please inform Ed Arnold of the amount, if you feel comfortable, so the Social Justice Committee can get an accurate count of donations.

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