CASA (Children’s After School Arts) is an independent, nonprofit creative arts afterschool program dedicated to guiding San Francisco’s youth toward open expression, expansive hearts, and questioning minds. We provide a safe, comfortable, and inspiring environment in which children in Kindergarten through 6th grade receive creative and performing arts instruction.
Our diverse team of artist/educators employ an emphasis on social justice and social/emotional development in order to encourage community-building and positive connections among the students and staff. We encourage effective communication and work daily on peaceful conflict resolution using restorative practices.
CASA takes special pride in outreach to children with challenging social, academic, and family issues; we embrace LGBT families and children who express gender variance. Our generous scholarship offerings allow CASA to create an especially rich cohort of children from a variety of San Francisco’s demographics.
At CASA, children are free be themselves within a safe and structured arts curriculum. Our students graduate with a love for the arts, but more importantly, they each leave us with a drive to be a better human being.
Supporting Our Diverse Community:
· Diversity, access & inclusion are crucial to CASA’s mission. This is reflected in CASA’s hiring and enrollment policies.
· Families who are on the Free & Reduced Lunch Program automatically qualify for scholarship and financial aid. In addition, CASA serves other families who do not qualify for the Free Lunch program but receive need-based aid from CASA to defray the cost of the program. In total a third of our CASA families receive some form of tuition assistance.
· CASA has expanded their enrollment to include more students every year since its inception.
· CASA programming is based on individualized instruction, which takes into consideration cultural and linguistic backgrounds. The CASA team engages families and caregivers to address students’ needs through in person meetings, emails, and phone calls.
· CASA staff trainings focus on diversity and inclusivity. At monthly staff meetings, CASA staff discuss their students’ experiences within the context of their cultural frameworks.
· CASA’s arts curriculum embraces diversity, including discussion of heroes from our students’ cultural, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds. Recent annual themes, which serve as focal points for kids’ art projects, have included gender identity and immigration status. A study based on CASA’s gender expansive curriculum was published in 2019 suggesting “that gender-focused arts-based curricula may be associated with increased awareness of gender norms, shifts in understandings of gender, and more positive attitudes toward gender-expansive roles, activities, and attire.”
· In the 2019-20 school year, CASA’s Executive Director Leslie Einhorn, in collaboration with Rooftop teachers, started the Rainbow Ravens, a genders and sexualities alliance for all students at Rooftop’s middle school after hearing reports of transphobic and homophobic slurs. With Leslie’s guidance, the Rainbow Ravens advocated for LGBTQ+ students, helped empower LGBTQ+ students to advocate for themselves and worked to shift the culture at the middle school.