BCAP Rocks the White House!

(20-Oct-2010 - Brooklyn, NY)

First Lady Michelle Obama Honors Heart of Brooklyn’s BCAP Initiative; One of 15 Youth Development Programs Awarded Nationwide

First Lady Michelle Obama will recognize Brooklyn Cultural Adventures Program (BCAP), the youth education program that gave rise to the award-winning Heart of Brooklyn cultural partnership, with a prestigious National Arts & Humanities Youth Program Award at a White House ceremony on Wednesday, October 20. Heart of Brooklyn Director Ellen F. Salpeter and BCAP Summer Camp Adventurer Jamell Allen-Thomas will accept the award on behalf of the thousands of children served by BCAP since 1998.

Selected from a pool of more than 400 nominations, BCAP is one of 15 after-school and out-of-school programs across the country to be presented with a 2010 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award (formerly, the Coming Up Taller Award) from Mrs. Obama. The award is the highest honor such programs can receive in the United States. BCAP is one of two New York City-based organizations to be recognized at the ceremony, along with youth media organization Global Action Project.

“This year’s awardees are shining examples of using success in the arts and humanities as a bridge to success in life,” said Mrs. Obama. “Through them, our young people are not only discovering new talents and finding their creative voices, but also becoming better students, better leaders and better citizens.”

BCAP Adventurer Jamell Allen-Thomas, age 11, never imagined he’d end up at the White House when he signed up for BCAP summer camp. “I can’t wait to meet Michelle Obama, and to tell her all about Brooklyn,” Jamell said. “I wish every kid could experience what I experienced at BCAP.”

“As Heart of Brooklyn enters its tenth year, we are thrilled by this recognition of BCAP, the program that gave rise to our cultural partnership,” said Heart of Brooklyn Founding Director Ellen F. Salpeter. “For more than 4,000 Brooklyn youth, BCAP has sparked lifelong engagement in their cultural community. As a parent and an educator, I am gratified by their sense of ownership in ‘their Garden’, ‘their Museum’ and ‘their Zoo’ through BCAP.”

Now more than ever, as budget cuts have threatened arts education in schools, BCAP’s innovative youth programming offers invaluable enrichment for Brooklyn youngsters, through BCAP Summer, After-School and Express initiatives. Research shows that active participation in arts and cultural activities during critical out-of-school time enhances children’s cognitive skills, increases their motivation to learn, and improves their chances of graduating from high school. Creative arts and hands-on exploration are cornerstones of the unique BCAP curriculum.

“Since BCAP was founded, I have had the opportunity to see it grow into an exemplary program for Brooklyn youth,” said Martha Rubin, BCAP Founder and HOB Trustee. “Now more than a summer camp, BCAP makes the cultural wonders of our borough accessible to young people in after-school programs as well. Today’s honor from Mrs. Obama pays tribute to this model that we have crafted over the past thirteen years in collaboration with our wise educators. I give thanks to all of them for this success.”

The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards are administered by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). With the award, Heart of Brooklyn will also receive $10,000 to support its engaging programming that weaves connections between art, world culture, literature, history, nature and science.

Since 1998, BCAP has engaged over 4,000 youth from more than 40 zip codes and 60 schools, creating a learning environment as diverse as the borough of Brooklyn. By providing in-depth, behind-the-scenes experiences at some of New York City’s premier cultural institutions, BCAP forges lasting connections between Brooklyn’s kids and their cultural community. At BCAP, young people explore world cultures at Brooklyn Children's Museum, become plant scientists at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, discover the wildlife of Prospect Park, scavenger hunt their way through the stacks of Brooklyn Public Library, meet sea lions, baboons and meerkats at Prospect Park Zoo, and create artistic masterpieces at Brooklyn Museum.

The Awards Ceremony will be streamed live at www.whitehouse.gov/live at 11am, EST.

Learn more about BCAP’s innovative programming and the Heart of Brooklyn cultural partnership by visiting www.heartofbrooklyn.org/bcap.

Heart of Brooklyn (HOB) is a partnership of the leading cultural institutions located near Grand Army Plaza in central Brooklyn: Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Public Library, Prospect Park, and Prospect Park Zoo. Heart of Brooklyn encourages tourism and learning by making its world-class collections and historic treasures more visible and accessible. As an integral part of Brooklyn’s renaissance, Heart of Brooklyn is committed to strengthening the future of its neighborhoods. Visit HOB on the web at www.heartofbrooklyn.org.

Brooklyn Cultural Adventures Program
(BCAP) is the award-winning signature youth education program of Heart of Brooklyn. BCAP Summer, the original program, is a day camp for children ages seven through twelve, 50% of whom receive full or partial tuition assistance from HOB. Campers take part in exploration-based learning experiences led by the professional educators at each member institution. In response to BCAP’s success, HOB launched two more programs based on the same interdisciplinary curriculum: BCAP After-School, a free program for public housing residents in East New York, and BCAP Express , a one-day curriculum modified for children from traditional summer camps visiting the HOB institutions. BCAP is grateful for leadership support from Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin, The Achelis Foundation, American Ireland Fund, Bank of America, Brooklyn Community Foundation, Cashin Family Fund, Fifth Floor Foundation, Harry Chapin Foundation, Ingrassia Charity Foundation, Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Grid Foundation, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, New York State Senator Eric Adams, O. Paul Decker Memorial Foundation, Offensend Family Foundation, Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, The Pumpkin Foundation/Joe and Carol Reich and the generosity of individuals and member institutions. Learn more at www.heartofbrooklyn.org/bcap.

The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award is the nation’s highest honor for after- school arts and humanities programs, particularly those that reach underserved children and youth. The awards recognize and support outstanding programs that lay new pathways to creativity, expression, and achievement outside of the regular school day. These programs excite and engage a range of students, cultivating imagination, collaboration, discipline and academic success, with demonstrable results. They also provide safe harbors after school, on weekends and evenings for children and youth in some of our country’s most at-risk urban and rural settings. For more information, visit www.pcah.gov.

Contact: Essie Lash, elash@heartofbrooklyn.org
Ellen Salpeter, esalpeter@heartofbrooklyn.org
(718) 638-7700

Photos available to download here.