President's Blog

The Power of Arts to Build Opportunity

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Stuart Comstock-Gay and Arreon Harley-Emerson seated at a conference room table with microphones. Arreon is speaking.

I’m thrilled that we’ve launched the third season of our Building Opportunity podcast series. Once again, there is great stuff here.

The first episode is with Arreon Harley-Emerson of the Choir School of Delaware. His work is a reminder that opportunity is everywhere. All it requires is passion and commitment to helping others.

I urge you to take a listen. And will share just a few notes here.

The Choir School is a place where students – and their families – are enveloped in love, support and opportunity. The kids are surrounded by adults who want them to succeed, and will help them do so. “Whether that’s just coming in after school and having a snack, there are going to be adults. They are eating side by side… singing in a rehearsal,…[in] a tutoring session. We really feel strongly that mentoring and role modeling is critical to be able to model success, because there are so many different models that we want to have so that someone can see themselves reflected, not just ethnically or racially or thinking about the lines of gender or those sorts of identities, but seeing themselves reflected.”

We all know it is vital that kids have something in their lives that helps them build confidence. We also know that having an adult who cares is essential as a development tool. I think we’re also aware that sports get a huge amount of attention as a way for kids to develop. And yet, the arts and many other things are just as valuable. And unfortunately, for too many young people, particularly Black and brown students, the lack of those programs – and the things they bring – are becoming worse.

Arreon’s story is about the power of the Choir School, but more than that, it’s about the growing equity gap and the deep challenges for our future, the loss of opportunity, the power of arts to speak to difference and equality, the importance of adults taking time to help children, and much more.

Take a listen. You’ll be happy you did.

Also, a reminder that this is the first of six episodes this season. Future episodes (which will be posted each Monday until they are all out), are with: Faye Blake of Pathways To Success on Chazz Rezwinicki of the Dover Federal Credit Union, Annie Norman of Delaware Libraries, Lossie Freeman of Zip Code Wilmington, and Cynthia Primo Martin, discussing her new book on how to build a diverse nonprofit board.