Giving Back to Arts and Education

On Saturday, July 30th, City Year New York had the opportunity to support the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation’s 12th Annual Art for Life event, in East Hampton, NY. When I volunteered for this event, I wasn’t expecting to walk away feeling as inspired as I did. Honestly, I was just excited to get out of the busy city and go to the Hamptons for the first time.

It made perfect sense to me why we were there. Russell Simmons is not only a longtime supporter of City Year, but he was honored with an official City Year Red Jacket at our 2005 Ripples of Hope gala. His organization’s mission is very similar to City Year’s. The only differences are the areas in which each organization focus. City Year strives to keep students in school by providing academic support and educational resources and Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation is designed to do the same thing by providing disadvantaged urban youth with significant exposure and access to the arts.

Danny Simmons shared his thoughts on art education with us before the event.

In the arts education world, Danny Simmons is a super star. He is an accomplished artist and founder of the Rush Arts Gallery in New York City. Danny took a moment out of his busy evening to welcome us and share some of his thoughts about the work we do. He claimed that the event wouldn’t run as smoothly without our help. We had just finished stuffing over 800 programs in less than half an hour, so I guess I agreed. Although the encounter was brief, Danny’s comments were genuine and the perspective he shared with us made me feel valued and encouraged, which is greater than any celebrity autograph.

City Year Alum Kafia Ahmed, with me during set up.

I was definitely star struck for most of the night, but mostly I was thrilled to see such passionate individuals supporting the arts and education.

City Year’s involvement would not have been possible without the hard work of Kafia Ahmed, City Year New York Alumni who now works at the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation. It was really special to get the opportunity to see her in action and working for such a positive cause. It was encouraging and helpful to us as a group, as we start planning for our own “Life after City Year”.

For over a decade, hundreds of friends and supporters have joined Russell Simmons, Danny Simmons, Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons and Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation to celebrate the creative energy of New York City youth and honor exemplary individuals for success in their respective fields and good works to better the community. Five arts education supporters and advocates were honored this year; Mary J. Blige, singer; Kimberly B. Davis, President JPMorgan Chase Foundation; Oz Garcia, Nutritionist & Author; Tamara Mellon, OBE, Founder & Chief Creative Officer, Jimmy Choo; and Edward Norton, Actor/Filmmaker Crowdrise Co-Founder.

This post was written by Sarah Shutt (@Sarah_Shutt), Events & Alumni Project Leader. All opinions stated here are her own.