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Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Chiku Awali African Dance, Arts & Culture, Inc.
City & State:
New York
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

Chiku Awali African Dance Company of Rockland, Inc. promotes, encourages and projects civic and cultural programs and activities within the Rockland County community that are representative of African dance and culture. The organization will participate with other civic and community organizations and institutions in functions and activities that will enrich its community, particularly its youth.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Chiku Awali African Dance, Arts & Culture is a very small non-profit arts and culture organization located in Rockland County, NY, a suburb of the New York City metropolitan area. When one thinks of the suburbs, the image of single-family homes with delicately manicured lawns comes to mind. It is rare one visualizes low-rise tenement apartments or single tract low-income housing. Nevertheless, the latter is the community that Chiku Awali serves. Chiku Awali's base of operation is Spring Valley, New York, because it is one of the poorest areas in Rockland County, with a per capita family income of $41,388 based upon 2000 US Census data. The median family income in the County is $67,971. In contrast, of the 28 families with a total of 78 dependents reporting income to Chiku Awali, the per capita family income is $33, 244 with the median being $27,034. One Chiku Awali family household had a 2007 income of $16,599 for a family of six. Chiku Awali enrolls over 100 participants in its programs during the year, performs for the community more than 30 times per year, and reaches over 3000 individuals in audiences that include Helen Hayes Rehabilitation Hospital, the Women's World Bank, the Arts Council of Rockland and many more.

Chiku Awali is committed to all aspects of African culture and its impact on the young and the old. Programs and projects focus on African dance, West African drumming and other percussion instruments, leadership training for young men and healthy lifestyles for its community. Studies show that programs that engage youth in active and time-consuming endeavors have a greater propensity for successful outcomes thereby reducing the incidences of delinquency. Active adults live longer, healthier lives. Community based art programs, such as Chiku Awali, have many virtues that facilitate the above realities. The intrinsic value in African dance is that it is physically challenging, offers excellent cardio vascular activity, increases flexibility and coordination, and improves the attention span. West African drumming, like African dance, offers the student an increased attention span and better mental acuity. Hand and eye coordination is increased, and like any study of a musical instrument, academic achievement is enhanced. The leadership program offered by Chiku Awali is based upon the tenets of African storytelling that are an essential part of any culture’s mores. African storytelling teaches values and morals. Thus, as you can see, Chiku Awali services broaden the avenues of diversity and build paths for both the young and the old to voyage as an interactive performance and learning community.

What does all of this have to do with Microsoft and the impact that it has on Chiku Awali and its community? Although the relationship is quite new, the new Microsoft software obtained through TechSoup was installed four days ago, it has been an immense help to the organization in enhancing its program services. Last year the County of Rockland gave a capacity-building grant to Chiku Awali. The funds were restricted to the purchase of new hardware. The new system did not come with software, and therefore, fulfilling the requirement of creating an organizational newsletter was tantamount to impossible. On an old computer, the requirements of the grant were completed, but distribution of the document was time consuming. The newsletter was created on a very old version (circa 1999) of Microsoft Publisher. Try as everyone in our core of Chiku Awali volunteers could, no one could figure out how to put the newsletter up on the website for those wanting a copy. Please note that Chiku Awali is administered solely by volunteers, none of whom understand much about computers. It was the new version of Microsoft Office with Publisher 2007 that saved the day. Although no one knows how to make the newsletter open directly on the website, at least the newsletter is now available to all who come to the Chiku Awali website. The new Publisher program captures the newsletter as a .pdf file that uploads to the website. There is even a way to send an email with the newsletter, but no one knows how to do that yet.

This is the Microsoft, TechSoup and Chiku Awali impact story. Although Chiku Awali is a "newbe" to the services offered to not-for-profits, it was just approved in late April, the benefits to the organization are noticeable already. Thank you and know that Chiku Awali will continue to learn and grow with the technology provided through the generous services of Microsoft and TechSoup.

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery