First Lady Honors NYC Youth Programs

The First Lady honored two New York City youth programs with the National Arts and Humanities award to recognize their effectiveness in helping to engage young people in the arts and humanities.

On November 2, New York City students Stephan Douglas-Allan and Robert Sandoval arrived at the White House to accept the 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award on behalf of two NYC youth programs, Young People's Chorus of New York City and Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History—programs that have helped shape these students' academic careers.

Presented by First Lady Michelle Obama, the award is the highest honor a community-based arts and humanities program can receive. These two NYC programs were among 12 national winners selected from more than 470 nominees and 50 finalists in recognition of their effectiveness in helping to engage young people in the arts and humanities.

Young People's Chorus of New York City

Sixteen-year-old Douglas-Allan, who has been a member of the Young People's Chorus of New York City (YPC) since he was 8 years old, is now a leader in one of six choral divisions and has traveled for performances, competitions, and festivals throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.

young people's chorus of new york city receives award from michelle obama

"Receiving this award from the First Lady of the United States on behalf of YPC is such an honor," says Douglas-Allan, a sophomore at Thurgood Marshall Academy in Harlem. "As a member of YPC, I have learned that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to, and traveling from Harlem to so many countries has given me a whole new perspective on my place in the global community. I believe my time in YPC is an amazing preparation for facing life and its challenges, especially as I

Under artistic director and founder Francisco J. Núñez, YPC provides NYC children ages 7-18 with a unique program of music education and choral performance.

"We are exceedingly grateful to the First Lady and the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities for the incredible acknowledgment this award gives to the Young People's Chorus of New York City," Núñez says. "The fact that the First Lady is presenting the awards to the children of these organizations is so telling. At a time of severe cutbacks in arts education, here is the White House saying, 'This is important.'"

Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

For six semesters, 18-year-old Sandoval attended the Gilder Lehrman Instituate of American History's Saturday Academies program, and it has helped him achieve high scores on his standardized history tests, including AP and SAT II exams.

"Gilder Lehrman Saturday Academies have helped me gain a better understanding and deeper insight on topics in American history and sharpened my understanding of the past and its effects on the present," says Sandoval, a senior at All Hallows School in South Bronx who is set to graduate second in his class come spring 2012.

gilder lehrman institute of american history recieves award from michelle obama

The nonprofit institute helps students, teachers, scholars, and history enthusiast in the U.S. cultivate a love of American history through a range of programs and resources, including traveling exhibitions, teacher seminars, and development programs.

"History education is critical not only to academic success, but to good citizenship," says James Basker, president of the institute. "Gilder Lehrman Saturday Academies help develop the minds and realize the potential of today's students and tomorrow's leaders. We are thrilled to receive this prestigious honor."