The story of the All Stars Project, Inc. is an American story – the Horatio Alger story of community organizations. The earliest beginnings of the All Stars Project, Inc. dates back 30 years. A handful of educators, community activists, folks in the helping professions, wanted to create innovative approaches in the area of human development. They were determined to make these discoveries independent of government funding – not wanting to begin programs that risked being de-funded.
Today, the All Stars Project, Inc. sponsors one of the largest and most successful inner city youth programs in New York City. It is volunteer driven and community financed through the contributions of tens of thousands of Americans across the country. The non-profit organization is comprised of three distinct programs: the All Stars Talent Show Network, the Development School for Youth, and the Castillo Theater.
The All Stars Talent Show Network provides a channel for the youth of the five boroughs of New York City to see their energy, hard work, and creativity produce a positive result. More than 20,000 inner-city youth, ages five to 25, are given the opportunity to voice their emotions in talent shows in local high school auditoriums throughout the year. Everyone who auditions makes it into the show. Contestants are left to their own devices to create skits and musical and dance numbers that they will perform.
The Development School for Youth is a three-month leadership-training program for high school age students. The program introduces young people to the business world through workshops in resume writing, public speaking, technology, and other skills needed to become an effective leader. The students go on field trips to various corporations, and upon completion of the program, receive a paid summer internship.
The final program, the Castillo Theater, is dedicated to helping adults realize that they can change their outlook and behavior through performance. The Castillo Theater is an off off-Broadway developmental theater for adults. Each season, Castillo’s repertory includes many original works – a mix of multicultural, progressive, political and historical plays and musicals.
The most unique qualities about the organization are its fundraising strategy and the dedication of its volunteers. Hundreds of dedicated volunteers come to the headquarters of the organization weeknights and weekends solicit donations to fund the programs. The volunteers are utilized in positions ranging from maintenance to administration. In fact, the organization was named one of Mutual of New York’s (MONY) best volunteer sites in 1998.
The All Stars Project, Inc. is now in the process of nationwide expansion. With a fledgling operation in Atlanta beginning two years ago and ventures being sought in Newark and San Francisco, the organization continues to develop model programs that influence the approaches used in youth programs nationwide.