Grant Recipient Highlight:

transcenDANCE Youth Arts Project

About transcenDANCE

transcenDANCE is a nationally-recognized creative youth development organization that works with teens in underserved San Diego communities. Their programs change the trajectory of students’​ lives by building resilience, confidence, and creativity and by instilling life-changing skills such as leadership, collaboration, and community engagement.

Program Model:

transcenDANCE programs are 100% free and are delivered through a unique three-tiered program model: CONNECT, CREATE, CONTRIBUTE.

  • Their CONNECT programs include Year-round dance classes at their National City Studios, Community-Based Residencies, Professional Choreography Mentorship Residency, and Performance Residencies.  They are currentlymoving forward with their plans to build and create a new community art and wellness site, transcenDANCE Citronica Studios, located at a 138-unit low-income housing complex in Lemon Grove.
  • CREATE is their flagship program. In their Performance Group, they do their deepest work with up to 24 teens selected every year through an audition process. They also offer CREATE Express Camps in partnership with schools to share their work through an intensive, five-day experience. CREATE uses a unique social change curriculum that combines intensive movement and technical dance training with self-reflection and the examination of local and global social issues.
  • Through CONTRIBUTE, transcenDANCE is a catalyst for student and community transformation through Alumni Engagement. Many transcenDANCE students return as alumni to take on leadership roles within the organization as Choreographers, Teaching Artists, and Volunteers. They become the role models and mentors who inspire and motivate incoming students.

Serenity Grace Foundation supports these three dance programs as well as the new the building project in Lemon Grove.

transcenDANCE Programs provide an outlet for self-expression that promotes creative problem-solving as an alternative to the violence and conflict. A primary need addressed by transcenDANCE is to provide a safe, creative, and supportive space during hours when youth are out of school.

 Who do they serve?

San Diego County Youth ages 12-18 years (middle and high school) with a specific focus in National City, Chula Vista, Barrio Logan, City Heights, and the Southeast San Diego communities.

What impact has transcenDANCE made?

transcenDANCE has a demonstrated commitment to measuring their impact on their students and the communities they serve. transcenDANCE utilizes the PEAR (Program in Education, After School, and Resiliency) assessment tools developed at Harvard to monitor student progress and success.

Over the past several years, the pre-post comparison of transcenDANCE student data collected through the PEAR assessment showed increased resiliency from student participants in the areas of emotional control, assertiveness, trust, reflection, and optimism. Students showed increased relationship building with peers and adults, increased learning interest and critical thinking skills.

Students also showed decreases in the areas of hyperactivity/inattention, conduct problems, emotional symptoms, and peer problems. This data is extremely valuable as it quantitatively validates the work that transcenDANCE is doing in the communities it serves to keep youth in school, to help them pursue college, seek leadership positions, and pursue careers.

Testimonials from transcenDANCE Youth Project

“When I grew up, I felt like I really didn’t have a home. I remember thinking that nothing felt like home to me. But going to the transcenDANCE studio, it felt like a breath of fresh air, a relief. I felt comfortable laughing, crying, and being happy there. I can’t wait for future generations to feel that way. I want them to have the transcenDANCE home that I did.” –  Lucia, age 20, attending San Francisco State University 

“Most of us didn’t have a place to fit in in high school. I was searching. At transcenDANCE, every time I walked in, I felt welcome. To find that in a place of dance is so rare. It’s so beautiful to me. And this place of dance is a home for so much more. transcenDANCE is where I found myself and learned to love myself.” – Eliuth, age 19, attending San Diego City College

“For me, transcenDANCE has been stability during instability. It was a home when my home was being exploded. It’s important for transcenDANCE to have a forever home, some place where kids can always go when they’re having troubles, and go for the happy moments too, where they can share their successes.”  – Bella, age 19, attending Northern Arizona University 

“transcenDANCE means the world to me. I like to call it my roots…it’s the place where I grew up to be the young man I am today and the person I’m meant to be as a friend, family member, and entertainer.” – Carlos

Current CREATE Program students

“Being a part of this program means almost everything to me. When I’m here I feel like I can truly be myself and not be judged.” – Jackie, age 13 

”What transcenDANCE means to me is a safe environment where they help you find the better version of yourself.” – Alma, age 15

“I enjoy dancing with transcenDANCE because not only does it teach me dance, but it helps me learn about myself. transcenDANCE is a safe haven for me, surrounded by understanding and supportive people.” – Akira, age 17