What is CityStep?
CityStep is a unique organization run entirely by undergraduates that introduces public school youth to the performing arts as an outlet for creative self-expression, a tool for building self-esteem, and a means to mutual understanding.
CityStep was founded in 1983 in Cambridge, MA, by Harvard undergraduate Sabrina Peck, ’84. Today the program is one of the largest student organizations on Harvard’s campus: approximately 75 undergraduates work together to serve over 100 Cambridge public school children annually.
In 2004, CityStep colonized at the University of Pennsylvania. Initially an organization with only 15 undergraduates and two West Philadelphia classrooms, CityStep has now expanded to include almost 40 undergraduates working in partnership with five West Philadelphia schools.
CityStep offers students a valuable creative supplement to their traditional education. Every week, teams comprised of 5-6 Penn students travel to local schools to mentor and choreograph routines with elementary and middle school students. CityStep teachers hope to reach these children during critical pre-teen years by providing students with various tools and activities geared toward boosting self esteem and fostering creative expression. At these partner schools, the entire classroom participates in the program — children are not individually pre-selected based on talent or inclination. CityStep truly becomes part of the students’ weekly curriculum. The CityStep students and teachers work together, challenging each other, and collaborating to create personalized choreography. The program fosters creativity and self-expression, teamwork, and support. Every year, the program culminates in an original, thematically relevant dance-theater performance that all participants help to create, bringing together parents, teachers, peers, and local leaders in an outpouring of community support.
CityStep provides the opportunity for public school youth to…
- Develop new skills through the ability to choreograph their own routines, opportunity to practice improvisation and performance, and chance to discover latent dance talents!
- Create bonds with classmates while working together towards a common goal. In the process of collaborating to develop routines, students learn to appreciate and respect one another’s points of view.
- Experience their ideas and contributions as they are implemented in a final show.
- Forge meaningful and lasting relationships with undergraduate role models, who make college and success in life seem accessible.
- Enjoy the support of friends, family, classmates, and community members, as they bring focused and sustained efforts to fruition.
CityStep provides the opportunity for college undergraduates to…
- Reach out beyond campus walls to learn from and make a difference in the local community.
- Take on leadership positions of real responsibility in a complex and self-sufficient organization—doing everything from running a classroom to running a nonprofit.
- Work with a diverse group of fellow students and local youth from different backgrounds and with different interests towards a common goal.
- Team up with other performers, dancers, choreographers, and designers working at a high level of artistic expression.