Cleveland Foundation partners with Tri-C to bring free mastery dance program to three low-income Cleveland neighborhoods

Latest grant in foundation’s Mastery Arts Initiative will nearly triple the number of youth served in Tri-C’s year-round Creative Arts Academy dance program

RELEASE DATE: 4.7.2017

CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Foundation board of directors has approved a $300,000 grant to the Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) Foundation to support the grassroots expansion of the year-round dance program at the college’s Creative Arts Academy. The grant will help the Dance Academy serve an additional 200 students, ages 4-17, at three neighborhood-based locations, including:

  • CMHA Heritage View Community Center [7230 Kinsman Road] – serving youth in the Central-Kinsman neighborhood through a partnership with Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority; Mondays and Thursdays, 4-6 p.m.
  • Family Ministry Center [3389 Fulton Avenue] – serving youth in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood; Wednesdays and Fridays, 5-7 p.m.
  • Boys & Girls Club at St. Luke’s Manor [2705 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive] – serving youth in the Buckeye neighborhood; Mondays and Wednesdays, 5-6:15 p.m. 

With this funding, Tri-C will also launch an apprenticeship program for selected 11th and 12th-grade dance academy students, who will each earn $2,000 stipends to teach and mentor students at the new sites. This program will help educate the next generation of dance instructors, as well as offer opportunities for students to address funding gaps in post-secondary dance pursuits.  

“It is widely recognized that the social, personal and intellectual development of young people can be advanced through committed engagement with the mastery of an art form,” said Cleveland Foundation President & CEO Ronn Richard. “We’re thrilled to partner with Tri-C to help students express themselves creatively through dance while developing a positive sense of self, improving health and learning important skills that are transferable to academics. We can’t wait to see how dance will transform the lives of these young people.”

Young dancers from Tri-C Creative Arts Academy perform onstage

Photo © Jeff Forman

The Dance Academy at Tri-C is quickly becoming a premier center for dance education in Greater Cleveland. The academy’s renowned instructors have developed a unique and rigorous curriculum that trains students in the fundamentals of ballet and modern dance techniques and performance skills. Several students of the academy have been selected to attend prestigious dance companies with full scholarships. In a single year, the program’s enrollment grew by 400 percent, from 25 students in 2015 to 125 in 2016. The Cleveland Foundation grant will bring the total of youth served to 325. 

“Engagement in the arts is a crucial element of developing well-rounded, civically engaged citizens with the potential to become tomorrow’s leaders,” said Tri-C President Alex Johnson. “Tri-C is honored to share the Cleveland Foundation’s commitment to improving the quality of life for everyone in our city, especially young people.”

This grant is the latest in the Cleveland Foundation’s Mastery Arts Initiative, launched in 2016 to expand access to high-quality mastery arts programs for youth in low-income neighborhoods across Greater Cleveland. With today’s announcement, the foundation has now invested more than $1 million for youth access to artistic disciplines including theater, photography and music. Current partners include Cleveland Public Theatre and its successful Brick City Theatre program, which serves youth in Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority estates, and its Student Theatre Enrichment Program (STEP) serving at-risk teens; and Cleveland Print Room for “Multiple Exposure,” a pilot year-round mastery program in photography for students in low-income Cleveland neighborhoods. The foundation plans to help nearly 5,000 students access mastery-based arts programs as the initiative expands in future years.  

For students interested in registering for future classes, call the Creative Arts Academy office at 216.987.6145.

~ ~ ~

About the Cleveland Foundation: Established in 1914, the Cleveland Foundation is the world’s first community foundation and one of the largest today, with assets of $2.1 billion and 2016 grants of $93.6 million. Through the generosity of donors, the foundation improves the lives of residents of Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties by building community endowment, addressing needs through grantmaking, and providing leadership on vital issues. The foundation tackles the community’s priority areas – education and youth development, neighborhoods, health and human services, arts and culture, economic development and purposeful aging – and responds to the community’s needs.

For more information on the Cleveland Foundation, visit and follow us on, Twitter @CleveFoundation and Instagram @CleveFoundation.

About the Tri-C Dance Academy: The Cuyahoga Community College Dance Academy teaches the fundamentals of ballet and explores creativity through modern dance and improvisation. Students develop physical coordination, strength, flexibility, alignment and musicality through the study of tap, ballet and modern dance techniques. In addition they learn about etiquette and personal responsibility, and develop healthy self-esteem and strong peer relationships. Mastery-based instruction in technique, choreography, composition skills and performance development, culminates in a final performance.