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Spring 2024 Newsletter: Growth and New Beginnings

2nd Quarterly Newsletter – Growth and New Beginnings

Our spring season has been filled with activity, growth, new beginnings, and transformation. We had a successful season, providing school districts and community programs. In addition, we hosted several events. Here are some highlights of the Spring Session.

Civil Rights Journey

We kicked off spring break with a trip to Alabama and Atlanta. Five students and three adults journeyed to learn about our history. Starting in Atlanta, we visited the King Center, and the Human Rights Museum, and met with civil rights activist and artist Masud Olufani. In Alabama, our students spent four days immersed in history, visiting Montgomery, Selma, and Birmingham, and meeting historians, artists, and activists including Michelle Browder and her family. The journey was guided by Stephen Browder and culminated in a video produced by students Alyssa Copeland and Tyler Dehm.

Board and Team Development

Our second retreat with the board, advisory committee, and administrative team focused on reviewing our strategic plan and building community. This event strengthened our commitment to our vision for the future and brought us all closer as a team.

A New Home for NECS

May 1st marked an exciting new chapter for us. We signed a lease for our new location at 203 Esther Street in Peekskill. This future creative center promises to be a vibrant hub where we can expand our programs and foster a dynamic community for children and adults. The overwhelming support from our community has been truly inspiring. We are currently renovating the space to meet the highest standards for creativity and learning. We can’t wait to unveil our fantastic new center on September 5, 2024. Stay tuned for more updates as we approach this milestone event!

Girls Wellness Summit  

Our first Girls Wellness Summit on May 10 was a great success. Fifteen girls attended the overnight camping event at the Blue Mountain Lodge in Peekskill. Activities included yoga, reflection projects, and discussions on self-care, empowerment, safety awareness, race, and body issues. The girls also enjoyed art, hiking, and food provided by Second Chance Foods.

Peekskill Open Studios  

On June 1 – 2nd, Peekskill celebrated its 25th Open Studios weekend where artists showcase their work in galleries, homes, and the streets. We had a soft opening at our new location during the Peekskill Open Studios weekend June 1-2, showcasing art by our students and teaching artists. The event was well-attended, and we are excited about showing off our new space and the possibilities for the future.

Creativity Ignited Annual Benefit

Our annual benefit on June 6, hosted by the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, saw over 160 people celebrating our achievements. We honored community members and youth for their service in the Peekskill community, raised funds, and formed new partnerships. Highlights included a talk by Jordan Pierre on investing in youth and a performance by Ariana Okoth. Our hosts Bria Waterman our resident artist and Kyle a local poet kept the audience engaged, inspired us with poetry, and had us smiling throughout the event. Our guests included Peekskill Major McKenzie who gave a few words, County Legislator Colin Smith, parents, community members, and leaders. It served as a great opportunity to strengthen ties with our community.

Juneteenth Celebration

On June 15, we joined the City of Peekskill to celebrate Juneteenth with a parade, community gathering, and informative booths. On June 19, we brought our adoring season to a close with our community coming together to celebrate at the Hudson Valley Museum of Contemporary Art with performances by our youth choir, a play written by NECS students, and a powerful dance by the Peekskill High School Dance Club. Pastor James Perry delivered an inspiring speech, and our film students presented “Untold Stories” about their trip to Alabama and Atlanta.


This quarter, NECS received several recognitions:

  • Advancing Equity Award from ArtsWestchester
  • NECS Executive Director Ridvan Idara and People and Culture Manager Karen Faulkner were honored by the City of Peekskill during Women’s History Month for their outstanding community service.
  • The Quality of Life Award from the Hudson Valley Chamber of Commerce
  • The Gold Standard for Transparency by Candid (formerly GuideStar)

2023 Impact

We are proud to share our achievements from 2023:

  • Over 600 people participated in our programs
  • Offered 72 programs last year
  • Saved over $75,000 in volunteer services
  • 100% of students indicating need received support

To check out the full report and our financials, click here.

As we begin our third quarter and prepare for summer programs, we invite you to continue to follow us on our social media platforms, and support NECS as we grow and navigate our new chapter.

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