Stories OrchKids Receive White House Award

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The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's OrchKids program is one of 12 recipients of the 2013 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards, the signature program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. The BSO’s flagship community engagement program is recognized for its effectiveness in developing learning and life skills in young people by fostering arts and arts education in their communities. In a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama presented the award to OrchKids Artistic Director Dan Trahey and eighth grader Asia Palmer, who has participated in OrchKids since 2008. OrchKids is a year-round after-school music program designed to create social change and nurture promising futures for youth in Baltimore neighborhoods. In partnership with the Baltimore City Public School system, OrchKids serves more than 750 students spanning pre-kindergarten through eighth grades across five Title I schools in West and East Baltimore.

“The recognition from the White House and the First Lady confirms what we’ve known for some time now: music education can change lives,” said Trahey. “The award substantiates the success of the Venezuelan El Sistema model in the U.S., as OrchKids continues to grow and positively impact more students across Baltimore City.” 

“I am thrilled about this extraordinary award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities,” said BSO Music Director and OrchKids founder Marin Alsop. “Looking back over the last five years, I couldn't be more proud of the progress our OrchKids have made throughout their time in the program. I am confident that they will continue to make great strides in the future.” 

Chosen from a pool of more than 350 nominations and 50 finalists, OrchKids is one of only 12 after-school and out-of-school programs across the country to receive the award, which is the highest honor such programs can receive in the United States. The awards are administered by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. 

In addition to recognition at the White House, each program receives $10,000 and a year of support from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Louis Vuitton is the corporate sponsor of the 2013 award program, and Fox Audience Strategy is the national media partner. 

For more information about the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards, visit www.pcah.gov