The Gabriella Foundation
We are The Gabriella Foundation. Our Mission is to transform the lives of underserved youth in Los Angeles through high quality dance instruction. We work toward Mission fulfillment through living, breathing values of igniting passion and fostering empowerment, shaping excellence with care, forging a supportive community, and committing to integrity and accountability.
The Gabriella Foundation's landmark program, everybody dance!, provides high quality, sequential dance instruction to inner-city children and youth ages 4 to 19 at little or no cost. Over 90% of everybody dance! students come from low-income families and qualify for federally subsidized free or reduced meal programs; 90% are Latino, 5% Asian American, 2% African American, 1% Caucasian, and 2% other. They represent an underserved population with limited access to arts education or safe, outdoor recreational spaces. They are also living at a time when 22% to 29% of 5th, 7th and 9th graders are so overweight as to endanger their future health.
The goals of everybody dance! are to engage children physically and mentally, help them to acquire dance skills, knowledge and self-discipline, strengthen their life skills, and develop in them a love and appreciation for dance and the arts. Through a variety of dance classes – ballet, jazz, modern, tap, hip-hop, break-dancing – taught by “some of the best children’s dance instructors in the world” (Los Angeles Times), students find mentorship, caring, and a safe place to build positive friendships and explore creative outlets in communities often characterized by gang activity and drugs. Along with the benefits of dance, such as discipline, focus and achievement, which helps students raise the bar for their own lives, we give our dancers new opportunities to learn and grow through performing, attending professional dance events, participating in master classes, and enrolling in Dancelab (for teens) to broaden their perspectives on dance-related career possibilities and begin thinking intentionally about their futures.
Everybody dance’s! most salient characteristics – culture, community and consistency – play a critical role in meeting our Mission:
- Culture of high expectations and performance: Our dance instructors have high expectations for themselves and students, providing them with new opportunities that challenge and stretch their abilities. Students must arrive on time, be suitably attired for dance, and master requisite skills before advancing to higher levels. To maintain and continually improve teaching quality, everybody dance! offers ongoing teacher professional development workshops and administers twice yearly evaluations – reviewing longitudinal data for ours and the teachers’ benefits – that measure teaching performance in accordance with California State Standards for Performing Arts as well as discipline-specific benchmarks.
- Emphasis on parental involvement to help build community: Families must contribute at least fifteen service hours annually. In 2015, 94.5% of parents completed their service hours, contributing a total of 6,500 volunteer hours to every part of the program. Quarterly parent meetings include a topic of discussion, and time for both small group and large group conversation where parents can provide input into the program and discuss new policies.
- Sequential, consistent, long-term dance training: More than half of after-school students ages 8 to 19 study two or more dance forms and dance five or more hours per week. On average, students in the after-school program stay with us for five years. Everybody dance! hires professional dance instructors whose passion for dance resonates with and engages students during class. In addition to being proficient dancers and choreographers, instructors must be familiar with the teaching and learning process and show they can maintain discipline in the studio.
Today, Everybody dance! is a leader in providing high quality dance instruction to underserved children in Los Angeles, and is now the largest sequential dance program in Los Angeles County. Serving nearly 2,900 students annually, everybody dance! offers year-round dance instruction at a nominal rate of $7 per month through its after-school programs, and free, in-school dance training to K-8 students at Gabriella Charter School, Camino Nuevo Charter Academy and Para Los Ninos Charter Academy, as well as exploratory classes at The Children's Institute in Watts.