Several foundations have awarded generous grants to Oddfellows' Neighborhood Troupes/Arts Explorers program in 2010-11. The Elizabeth Carse Foundation, Thomas J. Atkins Memorial Fund and George A. and Grace L. Long Foundation all awarded grants this month to the 23 year old program.
In 2010-11, Oddfellows is collaborating with the Middletown public school system to hold the Neighborhood Troupes after-school program in Bielefield and Farm Hill Elementary Schools. This allows us to streamline our transportation costs by using the late buses at the schools. Oddfellows’ Troupes leaders and their student teaching assistants meet their Troupes at the schools one afternoon a week to work on activities that build performing arts and life skills. Bielefield School has one Oddfellows Troupe each for grades K-2 and 3-5; Farm Hill has two Troupes for these same grades.. The Troupes are still Oddfellows, but now in locations that we hope will better serve our students.
In an effort to keep at-risk middle-school students engaged, Oddfellows has integrated its innovative Arts Explorers program of in-depth arts training and job readiness with the Troupes this year. Giving this Troupe for ages 12-15 a distinct name and focus gives the youngsters a sense of maturity and transitioning to ad[EB3] ulthood. The 35 Arts Explorers Troupe members are from Keigwin and Woodrow Wilson Middle Schools. Students meet at the Playhouse one evening a week, and work exclusively with a professional artist on visual art, writing, or dance. Arts Explorers is a partnership with Middletown Youth Services, which provides extra support for the teens at the school level.
The Troupes and Arts Explorers expand the world view of young people who need extra support to grow up to be successful adults. These programs continue to serve Oddfellows’ mission and remain among our highest priorities.