DEA Youth Dance Program

DEA Youth Dance Program

Our History

Jill Roberts established a free after-school dance program in 1999 and ran it successfully under a non-profit organization for 12 years. In late 2011, the funding priorities of that organization changed so the dance program was brought to the DEA Educational Foundation where it resides today under the name DEA Youth Dance Program.The after-school dance program created and managed by Roberts has grown to be the most successful after-school dance program in the United States positively influencing thousands of students each year by providing the healthy outlet of dance. Roberts, a former professional dancer, authority in after-school programs and drug education won the President’s Volunteer Service Award from President Obama in 2009, in part, because of the dance program and her commitment to kids.

Fast Facts about the DEA YDP:

  • Students participate in a professional designed free curriculum.
  • The DEA YDP funds a limited number of scholarships to students wishing to continue dance education at a local studio in their city.
  • The DEA YDP is committed to community service and volunteer programs, as well as a council for parents’ involvement.
  • Students who have been through the program previously and have been involved in a scholarship program, have been asked to go back to their old schools or previous grade to assist with student teaching.
  • Professional training programs in administration, classroom skills and safety are provided to DEA YDP dance instructors.
  • A $25 donation pays for one child to attend the 10-week program at no cost.
  • A $5,350 donation will pay for an entire program for a year at a school, including scholarships and instructor training.

The Curriculum

  • The DEA YDP Program begins at a participating school with an assembly led by a professional company. The professional company demonstrates different styles of dance to appropriate musical choices, speaks to the students as role-models, and asks students volunteers to try out movement during the performance hour.
  • Students may then elect to register for a free 20-week dance class series led by a professional dance instructor.
  • At the end of 20 weeks, students perform in a community or school performance setting, bringing family and other students together.
  • Students are encouraged to apply for scholarship at a local studio for the long-term study in dance.

Students targeted to participate in the program are primarily in upper elementary and middle school years.Classroom goals include incorporating positive themes such as:

  • Participating in positive alternatives to drugs and gang violence
  • Building of self-esteem, teamwork
  • Resisting negative peer pressure
  • Focusing on positive health and attitude

School Locations

The DEA YDP kicked off in Washington, DC and Los Angeles in the Spring of 2012.Current Cites include: Annapolis MD, Arlington VA, Auburn WA, Aurora IL, Austin TX, Baltimore MD, Boston MA, Chicago IL, City of Industry CA, Dallas TX, Federal Way WA, Flushing, NY, Fort Worth TX, Houston TX, Jersey City NJ, Kennett Square PA, Lima OH, Los Angeles CA, New York NY, Pacific Grove CA, Philadelphia PA, Phoenix AZ, Port Huron MI, Quincy MA, Seattle WA, Shepardstown WV, Silver Spring MD, Sioux City IA, Tacoma WA, Tampa FL, Van Nuys CA, Washington D.C, Westchester NY and West Chicago IL.

Dance Company Partners

A major part of the DEA YDP is working with these leading Dance Companies and organizations.

Anticipated Future Dance Company Participation: San Diego, Dragonfly

Corporate Sponsors and Donors

Donors, Sponsors and Fundraising:

The DEA YDP extends its thanks and appreciation to the following organizations and individuals who have contributed to the success of the program.

Donors and Sponsors:

  • Ahmanson Foundation
  • Anchor Free
  • Arts Council of Monterey
  • Chinatrust Charity Foundation
  • Dizzy Feet Foundation
  • Eastern Bank
  • Fancy Feet
  • Free Space
  • GE Foundation
  • General Mills Foundation
  • Global Giving Program
  • The Gregory and EJ Milken Foundation
  • Our Gift of Light
  • Ravens Foundation
  • Target Foundation
  • Thalo
  • University of Iowa Dance Team
  • Numerous Private Donors


Global Giving
The DEA YDP is pleased to be an approved participant with Global Giving, a nonprofit organization that connects donors with grass roots projects around the world to make a high impact. To contribute to the YDP, please visit our page on their site.If your company is interested in donating to or sponsoring the DEA YDP, please contact

Look Who’s Talking

Here are some quotes in response to asking students this question: What the DEA YDP did for them personally:

“Learn how to dance.”
“To stay drug-free.”
“Help me make friends.”
“Let me have a good time.”
“Help me express my feelings.”
“Dance more.”
“It showed me how to dance.”
“It helped me know how to fight drugs.”
“Helped me know to resist drugs.”
“Let me express my feelings.”
“Keeps me healthy.”
“Improve dance.”
“Inspire me.”
“Help me so I don’t drink and smoke when I get older.”
“Taught me to stay healthy.”
“It gave me hope.”
“It gave me a foundation even though I have no intention to do drugs.”
“Make me a better person.”
“They encourage us not to give up”
“Made me feel confident!”
“It helped me get fit.”
“Know how to dance.”

Youth Dance Program News

YDP Spotlight: Pamela Hetherington

Pamela Hetherington is a Philadelphia based Tap Dancer, Director, Performer and Dance Educator. A Philly native, this is Pam’s second year teaching for the DEA Youth Dance Program at the Memphis Street Academy Charter School. Pam is a three time grant winner from the PA Council of the Arts. She is passionate about keeping the art of Tap Dance alive through education, accessibility, and community projects such as the DEA Youth Dance Program! Her passion is so clear, it is what she is here to do!

Pam is an exceptional, patient, fun teacher while working with our students in Philadelphia. So much can be said about her dedication to teacher dance and creating her art form. We are lucky to have her as a part of our program! Her website is: to learn more about this Philadelphia artist!

Written by: Jodi Obeid/ DEA YDP Regional Manager

National Dance Day

In July, 2015, the DEA YDP participated in National Dance Day. DEA YDP dancers from Tyler Elementary, along with our DEA YDP partners ClancyWorks and Culture Shock D.C., performed at the Kennedy Center, while across the country at Grand Park in Los Angeles, DEA YDP instructor Stephanie Reed lead students from Emerson Elementary in a celebration of dance as a positive lifestyle choice for children and adults alike.

DEA YDP Honored in LA

The DEA Youth Dance Program was recently honored at a Los Angeles fundraiser, “Our Gift of Light,” an annual charity performance hosted by Fancy Feet Dance Studio. The DEA YDP was the recipient of over $10,000 to support local Los Angeles programming.

National Dance Day 2013

In July of 2013 the DEA YDP participated in National Dance Day:

Glamour Magazine selected the DEA YDP

December 2012 – Glamour Magazine selected the DEA YDP as one of their featured non-profits in their 31 Days of Giving profile.

DEA YDP December 2012 Glamour calendar

  • Program Consultants

    Jill L. Roberts
    Director of DEA YDP and Youth Executive Council Member

    Kiera Anderson
    Assistant to the National Director, DEA Youth Dance Program

    Cristine Dhimos
    New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Florida Regional Manager

    Kelly Kuder
    Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania (Kennet Square) and Washington D.C. Metro Regional Manager and Development Consultant

    Jodi Obeid
    Pennsylvania (Philadelphia), Texas and West Virginia Regional Manager

    Allison Tanaka
    California and Arizona Regional Manager

    Julie Peoples-Clark
    Project Consultant

    Meredith Liepelt
    Ohio Regional Manager, Evaluation, Community Service and Marketing Consultant

    Michele Morris
    Training Director

  • More Information

    Jill Roberts
    DEA Educational Foundation
    Youth Dance Program